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Last Updated: Friday, 26 December, 2003, 16:29 GMT
Confidence grows over hunting's future
More than a dozen fox hunts have gathered across North Yorkshire for the traditional Boxing Day meets.

Those involved said they would not allow the uncertainty which has been hanging over their sport in recent months to affect their day.

The Countryside Alliance is confident hunting with hounds will continue throughout 2004 and believes the government will not have time to introduce another hunting bill in this parliament.

In fact it claims more people are finding out about hunting for themselves as a result of all the publicity the sport has received, and many of them are becoming hunt followers.

Conservation benefits

Master of the York Ainsty South hunt, Nick Procter, told BBC Radio York that a ban would have a devastating affect on North Yorkshire's countryside in terms of both jobs and wildlife management.

"A lot of people forget that there are great conservation benefits from hunting," he said.

"There's an awful lot of money that goes into the community from these people who ride and who are foot followers of the hunt."

But anti-hunt protestors dismissed claims by the Countryside Alliance that there had been record attendances at the hunts.

Chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports Douglas Batchelor said: "It is regrettable that the hunting fraternity has had another opportunity to wallow in the cruelty that their traditional Boxing Day activities involve.

"But the claims that these were some of the most successful hunts held are clearly a desperate attempt to create the image of support for this cruel and unnecessary sport."

Timeline: Hunting row
21 Oct 03  |  Politics


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