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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 November, 2003, 14:32 GMT
Pro-hunters will 'disobey' ban
A fox hunt
Concerns have been raised about enforcing a hunt ban
More than 2,000 pro-hunt campaigners from across the east of England have protested against plans to ban hunting with dogs.

On Saturday, the first day of the new hunting season, hunt supporters met at Higham, in Suffolk, where more than 1,500 people signed a petition against moves to outlaw fox hunting with dogs.

Anyone who signs the "Hunting Declaration" also promised not to co-operate with any hunting ban.

The Countryside Alliance, which organised the protest, said followers of hunts had attended the demonstration from Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge and Hertfordshire.

Civil disobedience

A spokeswoman for the group said: "It's been an excellent meeting. It's gone very well and they (the protestors) represented followers of hunts across the East Anglian region."

The Countryside Alliance claimed as many as 37,000 supporters signed the declaration at 12 hunt meets around the country.

Simon Hart, chief executive of the group, added: "The mass gatherings on Declaration Day will give individuals the opportunity to make clear their intention to take part in peaceful but committed civil disobedience should a hunting ban ever be imposed."

A bill to ban hunting was in effect killed off on Thursday after the House of Lords ran out of time to debate it.

However, the government has hinted it might use the Parliament Act to force through the legislation.

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