Thousands turn out for Boxing Day meets

UP TO 3,000 people turned up for the Beaufort Hunt’s Boxing Day meet at Didmarton.

Joint master Capt Ian Farquhar said: “Once again we were delighted by the tremendous support from the thousands of people who turned out to show their support for the hounds and horses and to support the farmers who are the backbone of the countryside.”

The Countryside Alliance reported that more than 250,000 people took part in Boxing Day meets across England and Wales, showing support for hunting was as strong as ever despite nine years of the Hunting Act.

One of the biggest turnouts was at the Heythrop in Oxfordshire, which attracted around 6,000 to Chipping Norton Square.

The hunts met the same day as a new survey from the League Against Cruel Sports, the RSPCA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare suggested 80 per cent of people do not think fox hunting should be made legal again.

IPSOS Mori asked 1,988 people for their views on hunting hares, foxes and deer, hare coursing and badger baiting.

Robbie Marshland UK Director of IFAW said: “The truth is the vast majority of the British public, whether they live in town or country, share IFAW’s view that bringing back a blood sport is a repugnant idea that has no place in the 21st Century.”

Former defence minister, Lib Dem Sir Nick Harvey has said the law could not be enforced by police forces struggling with budget cuts and it was being widely flouted, encouraging young people in the countryside to ignore other laws.

He added he was not calling for it to be repealed, but the issue needed to be revisited.

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