Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Thousands attend Boxing Day hunts

Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hunt in Penshurst
Thousands of people were at the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hunt

The traditional Boxing Day hunts have been taking place across Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

The Countryside Alliance said thousands of supporters had lined the streets.

At the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hunt, huntsman Mark Bycroft said the support was for "something that should never have been banned".

Hunting foxes with dogs was outlawed in 2005 but hounds can be used to follow a scent. The League Against Cruel Sports said it was monitoring Friday's hunts.

SE BOXING DAY MEETS 2008
Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt, West Sussex
Crawley and Horsham Hunt, West Sussex
East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt, East Sussex
South Downs and Eridge Hunt, East Sussex
Surrey Union Hunt, Surrey
Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent Hunt, Kent
East Kent Foxhounds, Kent

At the hunt which took place in Penshurst, Kent, Mr Bycroft said: "We are still hunting within the law and we are still doing a fox project also serving the farmers."

At the Southdown and Eridge Hunt, which took place in Lewes, East Sussex, the hunts' Master spoke of hunting being a representation of "community, and sense of pride in heritage and everything that makes this country great".

But Douglas Batchelor, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, which campaigns to enforce the ban, said: "If hunts are hunting legally, as they claim to be, and attracting record support, why on earth do they want a repeal of the Hunting Act and why are they so reluctant to be monitored?"



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