Hunters vow to carry on.
Byline: Ruth Lognonne Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
HUNT campaigners have vowed to carry on their centuries-old tradition, despite 10 years of saboteur efforts.
As hunts gather across the region today for the Boxing Day meets, hunting groups have said they face the prospect of private investigators hired to monitor their every move.
This is despite a Labour-introduced ban on fox hunting in February 2005 and a nationwide shift to trail hunting instead.
Angus Crozier, acting master of the Haydon Hunt, in Northumberland, said the hunt has been hit by saboteurs in recent weeks.
"They were shouting and blowing their horns," he said. "They were trying to spray the road where the hunt was near.
"It was the usual stuff, but nothing disruptive. Saboteurs seem to be more prevalent in the Lake District.
"But the private investigators we've heard about in recent months are different altogether.
"You never know who or where they are and if the hunt is being filmed."
In trail hunting, a rag soaked in fox urine is dragged across a route and the dogs must pick up the scent to follow it.
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said the saboteur movement is not what it once was. He said: "While it still remains a nasty element that is upsetting to some hunts, really the support for the anti-hunting movement as a whole is at a long-term low.
"The League Against Cruel Sports has 3,000 members now, in the mid-90s it had 17,000. If our membership had crashed like that you would be really worried.
"It is not just about wanting to chase foxes, we argue it is a basic challenge to proper liberal democracy. There was never any case for this, it is about politics, and it needs to be changed. "You can pretty much do anything else to the fox, you can snare a fox, you can trap it, you can shoot it, you can do what you like.
"Basically, what Labour wanted to do but couldn't was say you can do anything you like as long as you do not put on a red coat and sit on a horse."
Three Northumberland huntsmen were found guilty of illegally hunting a live fox back in October.
Joint Master Timothy Wyndham Basil Smalley, Huntsman Ian McKie and Kennel Huntsman Andrew Proe, of College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt, were all convicted of hunting a wild mammal with dogs.
The trio were secretly filmed by two League Against Cruel Sports investigators as they led a meet in and around West Kyloe Farm near Lowick on Thursday, February 27.
Michael Stephenson, campaigns director for the League Against Cruel Sports said illegal hunting is a problem up and down the country.
He said: "Successful prosecutions such as that against three members of the College Valley and Northumberland Hunt earlier this year show that many hunters in England and Wales have a total disregard for the law and for our wildlife.
"Whilst hunters continue to break the law and cause cruelty and suffering to animals, we will be there to catch them and bring them to justice."
Many hunters in England and Wales have a total disregard for the law and for our wildlifeMichael Stephenson
Tynedale Hunt at their Boxing day meet in Corbridge last year
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|Publication:||The Journal (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Dec 26, 2014|
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