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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 February, 2005, 17:09 GMT
Hound hunts ride out before ban
Members of the South Devon Fox Hounds
The South Devon Fox Hounds will carry on with legal activities
Hunts across the South West have been riding out on their last meet before hunting with hounds becomes illegal.

For many, it was a highly emotional day on Thursday, and hunters plan to take part in legal activities allowed under the Hunting Act.

Anti-hunting campaigners said they would be monitoring activity of the hunts after the ban comes in on Friday.

Devon and Cornwall Police said they would enforce the ban, but more serious crimes would have higher priorities.

One horsewoman of the South Devon Fox Hounds, who did not want to be named, said just before setting off on Dartmoor: "My feelings are that the tears are very, very close.

From Saturday the league will be using its wildlife crime squad to monitor hunts
Chris Deacon, League Against Cruel Sports

"But I'm quite defiant and will still take part in any legal activities that go on."

Many non-hunters joined meets to offer support.

Chris Deacon of the League Against Cruel Sports said: "Obviously there was nothing we could do about the last legal hunts, but we're looking forward to tomorrow when the ban does come into force.

"And from Saturday the league will be using its wildlife crime squad to monitor hunts where necessary."

'Piggy in middle'

The Countryside Alliance maintains the ban is unenforceable because the law is unclear and impossible to police.

Devon and Cornwall Police's Assistant Chief Constable, Richard Stowe, admitted the force would be "piggy in the middle" between both sides of the hunting argument when the ban comes into force.

He said the constabulary would enforce the ban after it got "used to the new law", but that offences such as violent crime, burglary, vehicle theft would be considered higher priorities.

Hunters can continue a form of hunting legally by following specially laid trails with artificial scents and riding to help exercise hounds.


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