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Hunters prepare for the Boxing Day meet and press for change in the law

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 25, 2013

By Philip Bowern, Countryside Editor

Hunters prepare for the Boxing Day meet and press for change in the law

The Cury Hunt pictured on Boxing Day 2011. This year, like hundreds of other packs up and down the country, they will be out again on Thursday

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There are few more evocative Christmas scenes than the hunt gathered outside a country pub for the stirrup cup on Boxing Day. As Philip Bowern reports, despite the hunt ban, the tradition goes from strength to strength

It’s a scene that many would have put money on disappearing when the Hunting Act made traditional hunting an offence from February 2005.

Yet on Boxing Day this year, nine years after the last pre-ban Boxing Day meet of December 2004, the Countryside Alliance estimates around 250,000 people will turn out for what has long been the biggest day of the hunting calendar

Some 250 UK hunts – including dozens in the Westcountry – will meet, introduce hounds to mostly delighted children, tip their hats to the assembled crowds and trot off to follow a trail and burn off a good few Christmas calories.

The Alliance is hoping that this will be the last Boxing Day that the Hunting Act remains in full force. They point out that the coalition agreement includes a commitment to a vote on the repeal of the legislation.

In addition Defra has said it will give consideration to a proposal from farmers to amend the law to make it easier to flush and shoot foxes. Livestock owners, particularly in upland areas, believe this amendment is crucial as the lambing season begins.

Speaking ahead of the annual Boxing Day spectacle, head of campaigns at the Alliance, Tim Bonner, said: “We have less than 18 months left in this parliament but the Government is still to make good many of its promises to the countryside – not least the pledge of support to hunting.

“Tackling the failed Hunting Act is a matter of trust between David Cameron, the coalition Government and the countryside. In three-and-a- half years the Government has done nothing to address this illiberal, unjust and divisive law.

“The arguments for repeal or replacement of the ban are unarguable. Proposals to amend the Act backed by science have been brought forward and there is solid support in Parliament. Doing nothing is not an acceptable option.

“Hunting is a totemic issue and even a small improvement to the current situation would go a long way to persuading rural people that the Government is in step with them.”

Many of those members of the public who will make the effort to go along and see off their own local hunt may not be too bothered about any change in the law.

The majority will be enjoying see hounds and horses and hunting pink. To the hunt members – and to many of the farmers and landowners across whose land they hunt – an amendment cannot come soon enough, however.

And that means the anti-hunt campaigners and, in particular, the League Against Cruel Sports will also be re-doubling their efforts to keep the ban in place.

On Thursday, however, the hunts and their supporters will be firmly focussed on having a good day out, maintaining a tradition and spectacle that goes back centuries.

The Cury Foxhounds have announced they will meet at Coinageall Street, Helston; the East Devon at Honiton Cattle Market; the Spooners and West Dartmoor at Bedford Square, Tavistock; and the Tetcott at the Kings Arms, Holsworthy. In Somerset the Mendip Farmers Hunt meets at the Green, Priddy, near Wells, and the Seavington in the Square at Crewkerne. All are expected to meet at 11am.

Other hunts are also expected out and details may be available at the Masters of Foxhounds Association website: http://www.mfha.org.uk/

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  • Cortild  |  December 25 2013, 10:18PM

    my roomate's step-sister makes *61 an hour on the laptop. She has been without work for 5 months but last month her income was *13790 just working on the laptop for a few hours. see this here.................................... W­­­W­W.Ba­y­9­­­5.ℭOM

    Rate   -3
  • Charlespk  |  December 25 2013, 6:25PM

    I wonder which part of the human race keeps you in the manner to which you've become so accustomed. Or are you a Martian.

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  • Audra  |  December 25 2013, 5:47PM

    I fully understand the balance of nature and how humans have unbalanced it so drastically. And since when were humans part of nature, most think they are above it! Humans have built over nearly everything, poisoned the land, the sea, the air. Driven other species to extinction. O I live in the REAL world all right Charlespk! I've also worked in farm animal rescue: the terrible abused condition that these poor creatures arrive in puts the lie to 'happy,healthy' (farm animals?) Decent hard working 'animal lovers' - excuse me while I choke! And as for Christmas - I only like live turkeys!

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  • Charlespk  |  December 25 2013, 5:46PM

    I don't know if know anything at all about horses Audra, but keeping those three huntsmens mounts in the picture, in a fit and healthy state to do regular days hunting is an act of love and devotion to animal welfare. . That Grey will be pampered and loved, and take my word for it, it will have better healthcare than you will ever get on the NHS. And no, I've never been hunting.

    Rate   -2
  • Charlespk  |  December 25 2013, 5:34PM

    How many animals have you ever bred and given a happy healthy life to Audra? . Very, very few I'll wager. You live in a different world my dear. . You obviously don't understand the balance of nature. "Live by the sword, die by the sword". It's a biblical parable. I presume you are celebrating Christmas? If you were to get over your class war you will find that these people include the decent, hard working, animal loving people on the planet. . They just hunt foxes the natural way to protect other livestock. . The rest just enjoy a days riding and the event.

    Rate   1
  • Audra  |  December 25 2013, 4:36PM

    Charlespk, since you are fond of quoting poetry or prose (presumably your own?) perhaps you could give the following a read: "We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge, and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth. From 'The Outermost House' by Henry Beston. Respect life !!

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  • nickthompson  |  December 25 2013, 4:13PM

    "Ooooo Samantha!! Not feeling very charitable today then are we---------------------------------------------------------------Indeed we are Charles, a little more than you I suspect, I didn't see you or any of your ilk helping at the food bank as I have been for the past 5 hours, and judging by the comment left so far, might I remind you of the old saying, when in a hole stop---you know the rest.

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  • Charlespk  |  December 25 2013, 3:38PM

    Back to your usual ill-informed vitriol and insults I see Audra. . I'm coming back as horse. . They get far better attention than humans. . If I phone my vet today and say I have an emergency, they'll be out here within half an hour. . You MAY get a paramedic if you are very lucky and a long wait in A&E.

    Rate   2
  • Audra  |  December 25 2013, 3:21PM

    I see Charlespk is in the forefront defending cruelty as usual. These inbred brainless savages that love to kill any animal are also abusing their horses Charles. And of course we have the Windsors about to go on their usual Boxing Day killing spree! And William the hypocrite, lets save hippos but shoot as many pheasants and wild pigs as we can! What a shameful bunch of sadists.

    Rate   -4
  • Charlespk  |  December 25 2013, 1:59PM

    Ooooo Samantha!! Not feeling very charitable today then are we. . Most of them will have been up at the usual time looking after their livestock and their horses. Whilst you've been tucked up in the warm they'll have still been out in all the wind and weather. You should be more like 'Errol'. WHEN THE SEASON IS DONE Copyright 2004 by Charles Henry "When the old lady comes by, I try and smile. She'll always stop and stay a while. Her husband died, and she's full of sorrow. She knows we'll not all be around tomorrow. As long as trains still run on time. No one now cares who's been left behind. It might be an old soldier with a broken spirit, Or a travelling player, just here on a visit. Most of them now have their reasons obscure But more likely you'll find they're completely unsure. Each of them now at very low ebb. The least we can do is find them a warm bed. So remember tonight when you settle to sleep, Many are still out here without any heat. It's the Season now of Love and Goodwill, So let's try and make sure that they all have their fill. And when the Season is done, and we've all had our fun, For many this will just be the beginning. Of another hard year, when they'll all live in fear, A sad past. No future . . . There's no ending. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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