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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Huntsman says he stopped hounds
Tony Wright
Tony Wright denied sounding his horn to encourage dogs
A huntsman has denied sounding his horn to encourage hounds to chase foxes at a Devon hunt.

The League Against Cruel Sports has told a court that Tony Wright broke the hunting ban by signalling the Exmoor Foxhounds to pursue two foxes.

But Mr Wright told District Judge Paul Palmer at Barnstaple Magistrates' Court that he had stopped the hounds in the hunt on 29 April last year.

Mr Wright, 51, denies breaching section one of the Hunting Act.

'Stopped hounds'

He is the first huntsman to be summoned to court for allegedly defying the law which came into force in February last year in England and Wales, making hunting foxes with dogs a criminal offence.

Mr Wright, who was leading the Exmoor Foxhounds at Drybridge, Devon, said he was following the law which demands that foxes are shot as soon as possible after being flushed.

He said that when the first fox was found that day, he stopped the hounds, because they had turned away from the direction where the hunt marksman was waiting.

Mr Wright did the same thing with a second fox, denying that he had been sounding his horn to encourage the hounds to chase.

"We had lost that fox, in my mind," he told the court.

Of five foxes flushed that day, one was shot by a marksman on a quad bike.

Prosecuting for the league, Richard Furlong claimed that when the hounds found the foxes, what happened was a "prolonged period of pursuit" of the foxes by hounds in Wright's charge, which the league said was hunting.

The case continues.


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