NO RETURN TO FOX HUNTING; Campaigner rejects farmers' pleas.
ANIMAL rights protesters have called for anti-hunting laws to be strengthened, not relaxed.
The call came after the Federation of Welsh Farmers Packs (FWFP) claimed in last week's Daily Post's Farm and Country that packs of hounds could be allowed to help kill foxes within a period of just six weeks - if there was political consensus.
A new study by the FWFP claimed there was a need to change the law on controlling foxes with dogs after research carried out by them in Scotland showed that limiting two dogs to flush and shoot foxes made the practice both ineffective and illogical as far fewer foxes were found and foxes chased for a longer period before they could be shot.
However, Judi Hewitt, of Rhyl, founder of Wales Against Animal Cruelty hit back at FWFP's claims, made by its secretary David Thomas, of Llandrindod, claiming they were "based on supposition and fiction - designed to bring back a callously cruel sport through the back door."
Ms Hewitt said: "Lamb deaths due to abortion account for around 40%, exposure and starvation 30%, disease 20% and congenital defects 5%.
"When you look at these figures it's easy to see that foxes are not the main threat to lambs - or the farmers' livelihood. According to a study by the Ministry of Agriculture, 95% of lamb losses are down to poor husbandry.
"The fox has only ever been a minor nuisance, certainly not deserving of the kind of brutality meted out by hunts, whether mounted or on foot. This attack on the ban is motivated only by a deep desire to get back to killing for fun.
Ms Hewitt said: "The reason the ban was introduced, was because using a pack of dogs to hunt a fox was considered a depraved act of cruelty. Pre-ban, we were told by pro-hunt apologists that shooting a fox was far more cruel than allowing dogs to rip it apart.
"It just seems too convenient that these same hunt supporters are now proclaiming that shooting is more humane!
She said: "It seems to me that they keep moving the goal posts to suit their own agenda. Foot packs and gun packs use terrier-men.
"These people will hold a fox at bay underground using dogs - then dig it out, often putting the boot on the neck of the fox to stop it escaping.
"This is the reality of Welsh foot packs - it''''s not just about flushing out a fox to shoot - they dig them out more often than not.
She added: "I don''''t want to see any relaxation of the hunt ban rules, because it will effectively give hunts the thumbs up to hound and torture foxes to death again. Owen Paterson and David Cameron - both fox hunters - want the ban scrapped to appease their Countryside Alliance supporters.
"But they know they will never be able to repeal the hunting act because they don''''t have enough parliamentary votes. This is why they embrace any excuse to get fox hunting back on the agenda.
"The problem for this government and the Federation of Welsh Farmers Packs is that a lot of people know the truth about hill farming.
"They know that foxes are an insignificant pest - especially when you look at the facts and figures.
"We know the real reason for high lamb mortality, is poor husbandry and bad weather."
Judi Hewitt (left) is against the relaxation of laws banning fox hunting