ANIMAL rights campaigners have given a cagey reaction to a new qualification in hunting devised by a Cotswold.

The Masters of the Foxhounds Association (MFHA), in Daglingworth, has teamed up with Wiltshire–based Haddon Training to offer the diploma which is an official National Vocational Qualification.

Although hunting foxes and deer with more than two hounds was made illegal in 2005, the module has been included as a specialism option within an Animal Care NVQ and has already proved popular, organisers said. The specialist hunting NVQ was devised by MFHA's Tim Easby.

"Part of the future of all hunting will rely upon training, education and qualifications as well as maintaining animal welfare standards at the highest levels," said a spokesman.

Cirencester campaigner Alan Kirkby, of Protect Our Wild Animals, said the new qualification was acceptable provided it did not teach students ways of getting around the hunting ban.

"I do not support anything that promotes hunting," he said. "I just hope this doesn’t lead to more animals being harmed."

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