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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 February, 2005, 11:52 GMT
Foxes shot 'legally' during hunt
South West hunts ride out for the first time since the ban came into force

About 14 animals were killed during Saturday's hunts in Devon and Cornwall, according to the Countryside Alliance.

It says 13 foxes and 1 stag were killed within the terms of the ban either by being flushed to guns, or flushed from their earth to protect game birds.

The Spooners and West Dartmoor Foxhounds, one of the hunts which met at Postbridge, says it shot one fox.

Master Huntsman, Guy Morelock, says the hunt used the body of the fox to lay a scent for trail hunting.

Hunts from across the region were cheered on by huge crowds as they rode out on Saturday for the first time since the ban on hunting with dogs came into force.

Up to 100 police officers were on duty across Devon and Cornwall, but most were stood down as it became clear the hunts were going to stay within the law.

No arrests were made, but the police said two complaints of unlawful hunting are being investigated.

Hunting rabbits or rats instead of foxes or hares
Using no more than two dogs to flush out a fox to be shot
Drag or trail hunting (using an artificial scent to hunt with hounds)
Using hounds to flush out a mammal to be hunted by a bird of prey
Exercising packs of hounds without using them to hunt
Using terriers to flush and shoot foxes, to protect game birds

Devon and Cornwall Police's Assistant Chief Constable Richard Stowe said the day had gone much better than expected.

He said: "We knew it was going to be difficult. Tensions were running high and it was very emotional for many people, but it's gone very well indeed.

"We have had two allegations of unlawful hunting which we're currently investigating, one in Devon, one in Cornwall."

Although hunting with dogs is now a criminal offence, exercising hounds, chasing a scent trail, and flushing out foxes to be shot are still legal.

Tony Wright of Exmoor Foxhounds , who met at Dulverton on Saturday, said: "We have no more intention of breaking the law than a rambler who accidentally stumbles off the footpath and finds himself trespassing."

And the League Against Cruel Sports says its members watched the region's hunts closely.


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