THIS Boxing Day I visited my first ever hunt meeting in Allostock.

And on New Year’s Day my second in Crowton.

The Hunting Act 2004 bans the hunting of mammals with dogs, but the law it seems has too many loopholes.

‘Trail’ hunting purports to mimic traditional hunting by following an animal-based scent trail.

But how does a pack of hounds know which scent to follow – the scent of an actual fox, or the scent of real fox urine?

So if a real fox happens to be out and about in the area of the ‘trail’ hunt, undoubtedly the hounds will pick up the scent and chase.

And this is where the law lets us (and the foxes) down drastically.

As the law stands, if the hounds choose to follow the fox, and the hunters ‘lose’ control of the hounds, they have not broken a law.

Now let’s consider a fox’s habits.

Foxes are actually crepuscular (they come out at dusk). So what the devil are foxes doing out and about in the middle of the day, when the hounds just happen to be passing?

So back to my first ever visit to a hunt. I went along to a peaceful banner protest.

We hoped to attract the attention of locals and passers-by and maybe give them courage to join us in our polite, peaceful protest.

I was shocked and horrified at how many people turned up to support the hunt.

Fox hunters’ main reason for wanting to hunt is that there are too many foxes, that this is a form of pest control.

So why not trap and shoot the foxes? Why all the pomp and ceremony?

Pre the ban, it was proven statistically that hunting had no valuable effect as a form of pest control.

And actually, there wouldn’t be so many foxes if more than 30 million naive pheasant youngsters were not released in to the environment each year – so giving even weak or aged foxes a good chance of surviving and breeding, and totally messing up the whole ‘survival of the fittest’ cycle of life.

What can we do?

We need to pressure MPs – the law needs strengthening, the loop-holes closing.

Pressure the police to do more.

Not-for-profit organisations are out there in the field gathering evidence of wildlife crimes and the police should be doing their utmost to support them.

Talk to people, tell them fox hunting is hideous.

And remember, 84 per cent of us are against hunting with hounds, let’s use that strength.

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