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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 December 2007, 12:29 GMT
Boxing Day hunts gather after ban
Huntsman
The Countryside Alliance wants the hunting ban to be repealed
Boxing Day hunts have gathered across Kent, Sussex and Surrey, two years after hunting with dogs was banned.

Hundreds were expected at a drag hunt near Canterbury, where the East Kent Hunt said there was increasing support for a repeal of the Hunting Act.

The League Against Cruel Sports, which campaigns to enforce the ban, said there was no reason to break the law.

Spokesman Mike Hobday told the BBC: "They can go drag hunting, they can follow an artificial scent."

He added: "They can have all the fun they want in the countryside without engaging in cruelty."

SE BOXING DAY MEETS 2007
Clifton on Teme, West Sussex
Crawley and Horsham, West Sussex
East Kent Hunt, Kent
East Sussex and Romney Marsh, East Sussex
Surrey Union, Surrey
Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent, Kent

Before hunt supporters gathered near Canterbury, spokesman Nick Onslow said: "The East Kent Hunt has seen increasing support with people from all walks of life demonstrating their support for the repeal of the Act.

"The Boxing Day meet is a great tradition, part of our heritage which for hundreds of people is as much part of Christmas as turkey and mince pies and it survives despite the prejudice of back-bench politicians."

Under the Act, dogs can still be used to follow a scent but cannot be used to kill the fox.

Hunt supporters want to see the law repealed, but anti-hunting groups say public opinion is still strongly in support of the ban.

People who back the ban say the practice is cruel and outdated.

The Countryside Alliance has described the legislation as "dreamt up by people who know nothing about the countryside".



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