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Last Updated: Monday, 26 December 2005, 03:17 GMT
Public doubts over hunting ban
Llangeinor Hunt
Members of the Llangeinor hunt said they were not breaking the law
Almost a year after the ban on hunting with dogs was introduced, most people in Wales believe hunts are still finding ways to continue as before.

That is the finding of an opinion poll for the BBC, with 82% of those questioned saying they thought activity was carrying on unchanged.

Anti-hunt campaigners said it was only a matter of time before prosecutions were brought for illegal hunts.

But hunt supporters insisted no-one was intending to break the law.

In the opinion poll for the BBC Wales News website, more than 1,000 people across Wales were asked for their views on the hunting ban, and on how they believed it had been enforced.

  • Overall, 43% of people questioned said they were in favour of the ban, while 37% opposed it.
  • Support for the ban was equal in urban and rural areas (40% each).
  • 71% of people said they believed police should prosecute people who broke the hunting legislation, but 21% said illegal hunts should not face prosecution.
  • 82% of people thought that hunts in Wales were using loopholes in the law to let them continue hunting with dogs as they did before the ban. 7% believed hunts were not continuing as before.

As Boxing Day meets take place throughout the country, both supporters and opponents are aware that so far no prosecutions have been made in Wales for illegal hunts.

There is no ban on meetings taking place, and foxes can be killed by a bird of prey or shot - but only if no more than two dogs are involved.

Welsh police forces said they were not committing officers to follow hunts but were responding to any complaints received.

I am satisfied that most hunts have adhered to the legislation
Ralph Cook, Wales Alliance Against Cruel Sports

Mair Hughes, from the Countryside Alliance, said the law was "riddled with loopholes and contradictory terms", but insisted that hunts in Wales were abiding by the new law.

"None of us is intending to break this law," she said.

Mrs Hughes, whose husband Brian is master of the Llangeinor Hunt, near Bridgend, said public support for the ban had fallen since it was introduced in February.

Llangeinor Hunt
Members of the Llangeinor hunt said they were not breaking the law

"As time has gone on, it has been more obvious to the public in general that this legislation has been hurried through and is not going to save the life of one single fox," she said.

The chair of the Wales Alliance Against Cruel Sports, Ralph Cook, said that most hunts in Wales were obeying the law, but he was confident that prosecutions would be made.

But he said there were areas of the country, such as "the deep, rural, middle heart of Wales" where he thought the law was being broken.

1,055 people across Wales were quizzed in the phone poll by ICM earlier this month.

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