Boxing Day hunts to move forward despite Covid, calls for ban | Hunt

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A reduced Boxing Day trail hunting program will continue this year despite the worsening Covid situation and growing calls to ban the practice on public lands, the Countryside Alliance said.

The majority of Boxing Day hunts are scheduled to take place on December 27, as that year’s public holiday falls on a Sunday, traditionally a day of rest for the hunting community.

Restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus in Scotland and Wales have forced many packs to cancel public gatherings linked to their meetings. Meanwhile, critics are demanding a ban on public lands of a sport they say is often just a front for illegal fox hunting.

Labor has denounced the authorization of hunts on public and government-owned lands as “totally irresponsible”, drawing sharp criticism from the Countryside Alliance (CA), which accused the party of pursuing “anti-government” policies. -rural ”.

“Trail hunting and popular festive gatherings are an integral part of rural life. Labor has always had poor campaign results in the last election and it is no surprise that they are pursuing anti-rural policies like those announced today, ”an AC spokesperson said. “It is high time they let go of their bizarre obsession with class warfare and focus on the issues that really matter to rural people if they are ever to be taken seriously.”

A Labor spokesperson pointed to a recent Farmers Weekly survey which suggested the party’s popularity among farmers had increased slightly since the last general election. “Other rural organizations recognize trail hunting for what it is – an archaic exercise that most people believe should be recorded in the history books for animal welfare, habitat protection. natural and, unlike this Conservative government, respect for the rules. “

The party said it plans to help rural communities if it forms the next government by focusing on job creation, tackling crime and improving public services such as bus lines and hospitals.

The Countryside Alliance claims that trail hunting, which involves following a scent defined by a layer of trails rather than a live animal, remains popular with onlookers. But the pressure to end the practice is increasing. In November, members of the National Trust voted overwhelmingly to ban it on National Trust lands. One of Wales’ largest landowners, Natural Resources Wales, has also banned it.

Activists believe more than 240 days of hunting have likely taken place on Defense Ministry lands this year. Proponents of trail hunting say it’s a humane and legal way to continue a centuries-old practice. Critics cite the case of a prominent hunter who was fined in October after encouraging people to hide illegal fox hunting behind a “smokescreen” of trail hunting.

The Countryside Alliance said: “Anti-hunting fanatics have spent years making ridiculous hunting allegations – which they often use to raise funds – but almost every time they make allegations to the police or to the public. a tribunal, they turn out to be false.

“There have been hundreds of thousands of days of legal trail hunting by hunters since the Hunting Act came into effect and only a handful of recorded hunt convictions. The reality is that these prejudiced activists are motivated by hating people, not improving animal welfare. “

Chris Luffingham, Director of External Affairs for League Against Cruels Sports, said: “The Countryside Alliance is either breathtaking in its arrogance or suffering from amnesia. Just two months ago, one of the most senior hunters was convicted of teaching over 100 hunters and women in each of the two training webinars how to use trail hunting as a “screen.” of smoke, ”to use his words, for what the judge then described as an“ old-fashioned illegal hunt ”.

“Mark Hankinson, the former director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, was supported in court by the Countryside Alliance. We suggest that it is the leaders of the Countryside Alliance who are the fanatics, as they desperately try to defend a so-called sport that is as outdated and old-fashioned as it is cruel. “


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