Hunters gather in a new dawn

FOX hunters were due to gather across Suffolk today for the first time since hunting with dogs was banned.And both the Essex and Suffolk Hunt and the Suffolk Hunt insisted they would be hunting within the law.

FOX hunters were due to gather across Suffolk today for the first time since hunting with dogs was banned.

And both the Essex and Suffolk Hunt and the Suffolk Hunt insisted they would be hunting within the law.

The League Against Cruel Sports has said it will be monitoring hunts across the country to ensure there are no violations.

And the Chief Constable of Suffolk Alastair McWhirter has insisted his officers are ready to enforce the new hunting ban.

He said he was sure the force had enough officers in place to tackle the day, but urged people on both sides of the dispute to be "sensible".

Mr McWhirter said: "I'm confident that we've got sufficient officers to deal with the issue. We will enforce the legislation and we will deal with it, but it's going to be challenging because it's new for everyone.

Most Read

"We will be watching to see how people react to the legislation and if people break it we will prepare a file and send it to the Crown Prosecution Service."

The League Against Cruel Sports has launched a Hunt Crime Watch programme and is training its supporters to gather evidence against illegal hunters.

Anne Holmes, spokeswoman for the campaign group, said the law was unlikely to be broken today as the press would be keeping a close eye on the hunts.

She said: "There will one or two of us out at hunts on Saturday and we are training people so they know how to gather evidence and what to look for to ensure prosecution."

She said she could not confirm whether their supporters would be at hunts in Suffolk today as many wished to keep a low profile.

The Essex and Suffolk Hunt, based in Lower Layham, was due to meet at Stutton Hall today.

James Buckle, master of the hunt, said: "We are going to be hunting within the law and are going to take our hounds on a ride round the countryside."

He said they would try trail hunting while they attempted to fight the "ridiculous ban."

He added: "We are fundraising so we can help pay for the legal challenges which will be very expensive – the government is quite well funded."

Meanwhile the Suffolk hunt, based near Bury St Edmunds was due to meet at Euston Park Gates, Euston near Thetford.

James Aldous, master of that hunt said: "We are not intending to break the law.

"We are going to be line hunting on Saturday and are going to drag the smell of the fox.

"It is not a public meeting."

Do you agree with the fox hunting ban? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter