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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 December 2007, 14:04 GMT
Fox hunters claim strong turnout
Huntsmen and dogs
The Countryside Alliance wants the hunting ban to be repealed
Boxing Day hunts have been taking place across the UK on what is traditionally the busiest day of the hunting year.

The Countryside Alliance said more than a quarter of a million people participated in over 300 such events.

Hunting with hounds was banned in 2005. Under the ban dogs can still be used to follow a scent but cannot be used to kill any foxes.

Hunt supporters want to see the law repealed, but anti-hunting groups say public opinion strongly backs the ban.

People who support the ban say the practice is cruel and outdated.

However, Richard Dodd, of Countryside Alliance described the legislation as a "dog's dinner" and was "dreamt up by people who know nothing about the countryside".

There is no reason for people to go out there and break the Hunting Act...they can have all the fun they want in the countryside without engaging in cruelty
Mike Hobday

Calling for the ban to be repealed, he said: "The law is so bad we found loopholes. We found ways round it and we continue in the hope that we get it changed."

And Tim Bonner, also of the group, said more people than ever are getting involved.

He told the BBC: "We're seeing hunting as optimistic as it has been for a decade - and looking forward to this law being scrapped.

"A lot of the support you'll see today is about people who don't like the fact that this is an illiberal piece of legislation, they don't like the fact that the reasons for it were completely unjustified.

Repeal scepticism

"So they're coming out to support the rights of individuals to carry out a perfectly reasonable activity in the countryside."

However, Mike Hobday - who speaks for The League Against Cruel Sports - said that he was sceptical of claims that hunting is undergoing a revival and doubted that the Countryside Alliance would succeed in getting the ban overturned.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "What we hope is that the British public will continue to take the view that just as there are laws to support domestic animals from cruelty, that there are [laws protecting] farm animals from cruelty, so will support the laws that protect wild animals from cruelty.

"There is no reason for people to go out there and break the Hunting Act. They can go drag hunting, they can follow an artificial scent. They can have all the fun they want in the countryside without engaging in cruelty."



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Hunt organisers explain why the ban should be repealed



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