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Saturday, 3 November, 2001, 15:45 GMT
Fox hunters seek end to ban
Prince William (on white horse) and Prince Charles (right) with Beaufort Hunt
The Beaufort Hunt is a favourite of Prince Charles
The ban on fox hunting imposed because of the foot-and-mouth outbreak should be lifted in areas least affected by the disease, a leading hunt has said.

Captain Ian Farquhar, joint master of the Beaufort Hunt based in Gloucestershire, said rural jobs relied on hunts resuming.

His call came on Saturday, which should have marked the traditional start to the hunting season.


A carefully managed resumption could now take place in areas least affected and least at risk from foot-and-mouth

Captain Ian Farquhar
Beaufort Hunt
Opponents of hunting insist there is no reason to lifting restrictions while the foot-and-mouth threat persists.

Hunting was suspended in February after the first cases of foot-and-mouth disease were discovered.

Some farmers have complained about the uncontrolled number of foxes on their land.

Captain Farquhar said: "We are all farmers and no one wants to jump the gun but a carefully managed resumption could now take place in areas least affected and least at risk from foot-and-mouth.

"It is time now for a decision to be made."

Hounds in Glamorgan
The hounds have stayed at home this season
The Beaufort Hunt is based at Badminton House, home of the Duke of Beaufort, in south Gloucestershire.

The pro-hunting group the Countryside Alliance says the government should publish scientific data justifying the suspension.

But Peter Anderson, from the League Against Cruel Sports, told BBC News 24 there was "no evidence whatsoever" to resume hunting.

"There is still a risk, albeit a small risk from foot-and-mouth and justification for lifting the restrictions on hunting," he said.

"The rural economy is on its knees and all hunts are doing is complaining they should be resuming hunting to continue to chase wild animals for fun."

Mr Anderson said he felt sure a permanent ban on hunting would be imposed.


The rural economy is on its knees and all hunts are doing is complaining they should be resuming hunting to continue to chase wild animals for fun

Peter Anderson
League Against Cruel Sports
A risk assessment report by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) into hunting with dogs is due to be published soon.

Captain Farquhar said the details of the report needed to be known immediately.

"A lot of jobs in the countryside rely on the resumption of hunting and we need to know what it recommends," he said.

Huntsmen and hunt supporters are meeting in Wales on Saturday at the Royal Welsh showground at Llanelwedd to discuss their present position.

They claim the government is holding back on publishing the scientific report, which they believe will give the all-clear for fox hunting.

A spokeswoman for Defra said that the Veterinary Risk Assessment report would be published "as soon as possible" but a specific date could not be given.

The last confirmed case of foot-and-mouth was more than a month ago on 30 September at Appleby in Cumbria.

See also:

03 Nov 01 | Wales
Hunts meet to discuss future
31 Oct 01 | UK Politics
MPs urge action on hunting ban
26 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Ministers must act on hunting - MP
06 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Hunting for a compromise
20 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Free vote promised on hunting
19 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Hunt opponents scenting blood
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