Hunt supporters in defiant mood

HUNT supporters were in defiant mood as thousands turned out across the region in a bid to make a mockery of the Government's ban on hunting with hounds.

By Danielle Nuttall

HUNT supporters were in defiant mood as thousands turned out across the region in a bid to make a mockery of the Government's ban on hunting with hounds.

Despite the ban on the sport, which came into force on Friday, about 22 foxes were killed at hunts in East Anglia on Saturday. Most were believed to have been "flushed" out of woodland to be shot before the scent is left as a trail for hounds, as hunts switched to the new format of drag hunting.

The Countryside Alliance last night insisted the new legislation would not work and vowed to get the ban overturned as soon as possible.

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Liz Mort, eastern region director of the alliance, said: "We had an enormous turn out and it was very encouraging to see the support. Everybody was very sad but determined to keep the infrastructure of hunting going until the legislation is overturned and we will because it's a bad law that was passed in a bad way for all the wrong reasons.

"Because of that it will not be respected and will not stand the test of time.

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"Everybody stayed within the law. The fact that people are putting on their coats in a colour they like and foxes are still being killed just proves it's an unenforceable act.

"There are several ways in which foxes can still be legally killed. We are determined to show this act for what it is. It's nothing to do with animal welfare and everybody is more determined to get rid of it."

There were 19 hunt meetings across East Anglia on Saturday including six in Suffolk and three in Essex.

James Buckle, joint master of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, said the hunt flushed out a fox to be shot at its meet at Stutton but said the new arrangements were "a fiasco".

He said the hunt would not break the law intentionally but added he believed many people would defy the ban and continue to fox-hunt. "There will still be people who will go out hunting, definitely.

"There's always been illegal hare coursing and now more hunting will happen illegally. There will be people go out and hunt regardless – they haven't got a lot of confidence in the law."

James Aldous, senior joint-master of the Suffolk Hunt, which met at Euston, near Thetford, said: "There was a tremendous turnout, with around 1,000 people and 70 horses attending the event.

"The first Suffolk Hunt took place in 1745, and after all this time I think it is very sad that this tradition has come to an end. The ban is unreasonable, but we intend to carry on hunting within the law however and wherever possible."

In a statement yesterday, the League Against Cruel Sports said it was expecting a small number of prosecutions to follow various hunts across the country.

Mike Hobday, head of public affairs for the league, said: "We had over 100 monitors out today, some working undercover, some filming openly.

"Our evidence suggests that most hunts did operate within the law, many meeting and promptly going home and others peacefully exercising their hounds or drag hunting.

"However, we have received reports of what we believe is clearly illegal activity by a number of hunts across Britain. These include fox and hare hunts in the South East, the South West, the West Midlands and the North West.

"Our monitors will be sending their video evidence to the League Against Cruel Sports, and we will be forwarding it to the police.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said officers attended the six events across Suffolk held in connection with the hunting legislation and no arrests were made.

He said police would like to thank people for their co-operation.

Nationally, the Countryside Alliance reported 91 foxes being killed and a spokesman said most were shot although some were also unintentionally caught by hounds.

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