AN ANIMAL rights activist has backed a campaign by a Tetbury man to encourage hunts to introduce a protocol to help stop foxes being killed during hunts.

Peter Martin was inspired to set up a campaign after a fox was chased into a Cirencester garden and ripped to shreds by hounds belonging to an unidentified hunt, earlier this month.

Mr Martin wants to encourage hunts to introduce a voluntary protocol that he hopes will cut down the number of foxes killed.

Measures included in this plan include muzzling hounds from hunts and stopping hunts from training hounds with artificial scents from a young age.

Fox hunting with hounds was banned in England in 2004 and became illegal in 2005.

Hunt groups are allowed to carry out drag hunting, where a trail is marked using fox scent for the dogs to pursue.

Mike Haines, who regularly monitors hunts in the area, said: “It has been nine years now since fox hunting was banned.

“If the dogs had been trained in artificial scent, which they should be, they wouldn’t still be hunting foxes.

“This is the modern 21st Century not the 1800s, the hunts need to modernise.”

Not everyone agreed.

Jo Aldridge of the Beaufort Hunt said across the UK there were an estimated 18,000 days of legal hunting each year and incidents such as the fox’s death in Cirencester were “rare in the extreme”.