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Fox hunting Monday, 22 January, 2001, 18:22 GMT
How many livelihoods at stake?
Derwent hunt
The hunt remains a controversial issue
The kennels of the Cotswold Hunt provide jobs and accommodation for seven people.

If fox hunting is banned, say the Countryside Alliance, they and their families will not only lose a wage, but also their homes.

There are approximately 1,000 people in the UK who are directly employed and housed by hunting in this way.

Policeman and hunt protester
Police have clashed with hunt protesters
And the Countryside Alliance says that a further 15,000 full-time job equivalents will be affected by a ban.

Farriers, feed merchants, vets, clothing manufacturers, grooms and saddlers will be among those who will lose some work, if not their job outright, says the country sports lobby.

But the 16,000 figure - reached following a report commissioned by the Countryside Alliance from the Produce Studies Group last year - is wildly inaccurate, according to animal rights groups and a rural economy expert.

Dr Neil Ward of Newcastle University, in a study of hunting and employment in March last year, wrote: "Any claims that large numbers of jobs will automatically be lost following a ban cannot be sustained by reference to any evidence.

"People will continue to ride"

"Such claims are based on pure conjecture, and are wrongly based on a static view of how the economy works."

Dr Ward's initial research was partly funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, but was later published in the academic 'Journal of Rural Studies.'

The League Against Cruel Sports says it believes that the number of jobs lost would amount to no more than 700.

Fox hunting
A spokesman for the Hunt Saboteurs Association said: "The Countryside Alliance is saying that people will stop riding if they cannot ride with the hunt.

"That's just nonsense - people will continue to ride, just not with the hunt.

"Therefore, all the saddlers and blacksmiths and riding attire manufacturers will not lose their jobs. This is just another example of the pro-hunt lobby clutching at straws."

Hunt protest at Westminster
Westminster has been the focus of hunt protests
But the Countryside Alliance is adamant.

Spokesman Paul Latham said: "If hunting is made redundant through a ban, thousands of people will lose their livelihoods - and some of them will lose their homes too.

"Dr Ward's calculations were all based on drag hunting becoming an alternative to fox hunting.

"That is not going to happen. Drag hunting is not an alternative to fox hunting, and farmers will not let the drag hunt across their land with anything like the frequency of the fox hunt.

"That is quite simply because fox hunting provides the farmer with a service. He gets nothing out of drag hunting."

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Paul Latham of the Countryside Alliance: "16,000 jobs would be at risk if hunting were banned"
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