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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 15:53 GMT
Hunters vow to continue after ban
Buster Ansell
Gamekeeper Buster Ansell said landowners are using him more
Members of the hunting community in the South East say they are determined to continue the sport despite the ban on using hounds to catch and kill a fox.

This weekend is the first of the new season since the hunting ban came into force in February.

Richard Middleton, of the Countryside Alliance in Kent, said hunts would be operating within the law.

"Most hunts are going mock hunting - laying a trail across country in the way that a fox would move," he said.

"They are going in and out of woods, across fields, up hedgerows, doubling back and things like that."

Various exemptions

He said mock hunts differed from drag hunting in that the route was not planned beforehand.

East Kent Foxhounds are holding an Open Meet on Saturday at Missingham Farm in East Brabourne before following a fox-scent trail.

"This meet is proof that the Hunting Act has failed," said supporter Nick Onslow.

Mr Middleton said the law had various exemptions, and it was legal to use two dogs to flush out a wild animal, including a fox.

Any animals flushed out in this way now had to be shot.

East Sussex gamekeeper Buster Ansell said that since the ban he was being called to shoot foxes by farmers and landowners more than ever before in his 23 years in the job.

Fox caught in gamekeeper's lamp
"Lamping" is considered one of the best methods of fox control

His "lamping" technique uses a powerful light to locate foxes before they are shot.

On one estate where he works, in Heathfield, more than 200 foxes will be shot this year.

"Before, farmers would tolerate a bit of loss of stock to the foxes," he said.

"Now they have declared war on the fox and we are being called in more and more."

However, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said it was unlikely more foxes would be killed overall than before the hunting ban.

"I don't think you will see a significant increase because most people in the countryside just want to maintain the balance of foxes," said regional director David Knowles.



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