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The Fitzwilliam Hunt
Image copyright Terry Harris

After the ban: Fox hunting under the new law...

The Master of the Hounds of the Fitzwilliam Hunt in Peterborough talks about fox hunting after the implementation of the Hunting Act 2004...

The ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales saw its first real test over the weekend of 19th and 20th February.  Peterborough's Fitzwilliam Hunt was one of several that took place across the country. George Bowyer, Master of the Hounds of the Fitzwilliam Hunt, spoke to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Breakfast presenter, Steve Riches, about how the new legislation will affect their weekend hunts.

Fitzwilliam Hunt
Horse and hounds...

Under the new law - the Hunting Act 2004 - which came into effect on Friday 18th February, 2005, hunting with dogs is now a criminal offence, although exercising hounds, chasing a scent trail and flushing out foxes to be shot are all still legal. According to a BBC news report, there were a total of 270 hunts around the country on the first day of the ban and anti-hunt groups sent out 100 monitors to check the law was not being broken.

George Bowyer referred to the weekend's hunt, under the new rules, as "a totally different activity - not good".  He explains that the Fitzwilliam Hunt will continue to hunt under the current circumstances: "We look upon this ban as temporary," he told BBC Cambridgeshire, "and according to BBC Countryfile's MORI Poll, the ban has less than 50% support in the country; so we're hoping that it will be overturned in the short to medium-term.  It's unworkable and it's not going to save the lives of any foxes."

Fitzwilliam Hunt
The crowds gather for the off...

The current government believes the ban to be a workable law, so will Bowyer and his fellow hunters have to wait until a new government is in power before they can hope for a return to hunting as they know it?

"A different government would be an easy way to get around it, but the thing is, that unworkable law does not last." Bowyer counters. "You only have to look at the Poll Tax for an example of that. If we can prove that the law is unworkable, that it's not benefiting either wildlife or communities and that it is causing strife and upset all over the place, then it will need to be changed."

There are a number of alternatives available to the hunters including trail and drag hunting, but as Bowyer explains, the Cambridgeshire countryside simply will not support these alternatives. "We've always maintained that not all of the country’s hunts can transform themselves into drag hunts, and that remains true.  Drag hunting is about charging around at breakneck speed across grass fields and jumping over hedges - and there aren't a great number of grass fields and hedges in the Fitzwilliam Hunt country.

The Fitzwilliam Hunt
And they're away!

"There's not a lot of point to charging across ploughed fields. Drag hunting is like point-to-point riding; it's about going fast and jumping - and you've got to have the right terrain for that to work. So, in Leicestershire, where there are a lot of dairy farms and hence a lot of grassland, many of the hunts may be able to transfer to drag hunting - but people wouldn't come to this region to do that kind of thing."

Bowyer says that for the time being, the Fitzwilliam Hunt still has many supporters, but is worried that if the law is not overturned they will gradually slip away and find alternative activities.  On the first weekend of the hunting ban, the Fitzwilliam Hunt tried its hand at trail hunting, but Bowyer is not sure whether that will be sufficient to maintain the interest of the hunt's supporters.

Fitzwilliam Hunt - hounds
Hunting hounds

"We need to keep the money coming in, in order to keep the staff employed and keep the hounds and the horses fed," he explains. "If we lose that, we'll be faced with the decision about what to do with all the hounds - they're not able to be re-homed as pets, despite what the League Against Cruel Sports says. The Canine Defence League has made that point very clearly to the government - and we WILL have to make a lot of difficult decisions regarding the hounds.”

The League Against Cruel Sports claims the new Act has been broken in several hunts around the UK, even though the numbers of foxes killed on this first weekend had fallen. They say that video evidence of the law being broken would be passed onto police.  The RSPCA has also said it will monitor hunts and help with evidence gathering.

John Cooper, Chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports said on the League’s website: "The hunting ban is a massive leap forwards to the creation of a decent and humane society. Our children and grandchildren will grow up into a better and kinder world as a result of the hunting ban.”

last updated: 22/02/05
Have Your Say
It's an emotive issue... Tell us whether you think the new law will work and what it will mean for hunting's supporters and its opponents.
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surely you cant be serious, foxes are ruining farmers livestock, you cant just let foxes pop your sheep off one by one unitl you have nothing left. Its a much more humain way of killing them whilst hunting and giving them an instant death, rather than shooting and only wounding it, giving it a long and painful death.

hayley 12
i hunt with the fitz ever saturday and itz the best!! we fitz people rock!!if ur agaist huntin dont do it and go back and crawl under your rockS!!!

Go ahead, have the 'fantastic' ride, just do it without the guns? I have a horse and i totally disagree with the opinions about having a great ride. I do every day but i dont go killing foxes!

Fox hunting is wrong it deserves to banned. Poor inocent foxes are harmed for the fun of hunters. How would you like it if there was a sport called human hunting?

Fox`s that are beening hunted will have had a much better life than most farm reared animals! FIGHT THE BAN KEEP HUNTING!!!!

y fox hunt wots the point fox's r in the same family as dogs so y should they be hunted i mean wot r thy being hunted for??


i think its good to keep hunting and i agree with u felix ally aged 14

Hi im Catherine Im 16 and I am all for hunting. I am sure that if all the aunties out there had seen all of their chickens killed - killed not eaten by felix the fox their opinion would be different. Felixes head is now on my bedroom wall. Happy Hunting!

I am completely for fox hunting! People believe that only 15 years of age i dont know what im talking about! Ive lived on a farm my entire life and began following the hunt on my pony when i was 11! I love it! The ban should have never come into place! We need to keep hunting...but wait.... we still are anyway!

course it'll work! Fox hunting is sick and cruel and I'm glad it's banned! Even know I've commented a little late I had to have my say!

im 13 years old and i love huting my family have hunted and it is ashame to stop huting in the fucher i would love fro my childern to hutn so........ stuff blare and keep hunting 4 ever !!!!!!!!!!1111

I think the majority of the contributors should go back to school in their free time (instead of charging across the countryside on horseback) and learn to spell !

katie keetley
i am a 17 year old country girl. i am often persecuted for my backing of fox hunting. Imagine my anger when i heard that is was to be outlawed, to make matters worse it was on my 14th birthday when the ban was brought in to place, my own dad and his wife hope that i will "grow out of it". i wish to put countryside alliance stickers in my car but am not allowed as it is parked outside my dad's house. my mother and her husband still go hunting every week. I hope that maybe one day the hunting ban will be overuled and we can get back to normal life in the countryside.

It sould never be banned but using poison and guns are unexeptibale

I on the other hand disagree with the idea of fox hunting, it's cruel and inhumane. The idea of hunting for fun is just inconceivable. What if the fox was a mother and it was hunted and killed? What would happen to the young? Eventually due to mankind's constant need to hunt the foxes for "fun" it will lead to the extinction of that species.

i am completely for fox hunting, i think its stupid its banned.

you sould be aball to do it

hi, i may only be 12 years old but i know what i strongly believe in, and that that is that fox hunting should be kept! at the moment i am in the middle of writing a speech for school, conserning fox hunting! i would like to know what you supporters think of it...... I know that a lot of people nowadays are against fox hunting. I think it is ridiculous that someone who is not being affected in the slightest has to make such a big, hysterical deal out of something they’re not familiar with. I have been brought up, supporting fox hunting, and I’m not about to change that because the dominant population tells me to!

I am doing this topic in English. I am on the side for fox hunting. Only if the fox is killed quickly and suffers just seconds of pain. It id doin foxes a deal of good. If you kill the ill one and leave the rest alive then the foxes will still live a good life. Leaving an ill fox alive will leave it in angony and the desease may spread to ther foxes.

hello i am against fox hunting only in sporti think it is ok for a farmer as long as it is a good case

i think it is so cruel that these animals are getting killed by these men and it is there sport.they have a right to have a peaceful life just like we are.we should take action and stop!!!

I understand that foxes are vermin and ruin crops, eat chickens etc, but how the dogs tear up the fox is absolutely cruel. You have frightened many foxes out of the countryside. Please, please make sure you stick to the ban. There are other ways of getting rid of foxes in a kinder way. Regards A NLCS student [Edited comment]

Henry James
The ban is built on the so called fact that hunting is cruel. However to answer this we have to first define cruelty.The Scott Henderson commitee defined vruelty as an " act to cause unnessecary suffering". No where in all my years of fox hunting have i seen any such thing. The average fox hound weighs 60-70lbs more than 3x the amount of a fox. This means that they are therefore about 3x as strong. These foxhonds use thir instinct to attack the back of the neck and due to weight and power one bite will kill the fox. Foxes are either killed like this or escape entirely unharmed.It is only after the foxes death that the huntsman may or may not allow the foxes to eat the dead fox as a reward. This is aftrer the fox is DEAD!!!

Lucy J
Fox Hunting should be kept. BAN THE BAN I say. It is the best way to control the numbers & keep a healthy population. I've hunted since i was 6, yet i havnt grown up to be a murderer as some anti's suggest. BAN THE BAN!!

antony parsons
it is very bad for fox hunting

You hunters are really arrogant. Talking about bla bla 'traditions'. For God's sake, war has been a tradition for many years as well. You surely do not support that?! ( Though I honestly wouldn't be surprised, considering the fact you hunters are the representers of massacre and murder)

Rob H
If i was a fox i would vote for hunting as it is the only form of control that allows me the chance to use my instincts for survival. Poison and the snare or the gun is totally indiscriminate Keep Hunting

i think fox hunting should also be kept . its 1 of englands top traditions it should be kept.the foxes are going to die anyway because the farmers are aloud to kill them ,they can get poisend and trapped and or ran over .. BAN THE BAN fox hunting should still go on !!!!

Amanda finch
i think that fox hunting should be kept because we have our right to hunt and it is a triditional thing it has been in uk for years and only 60% say fox hunting is good and all the people who dont like it they should keep it to them selfs

fox hunting is very cruel to foxes

Basil Brush
What a bunch of old toffy!!!Ban The Hunts !!! BOOM BOOM !!!

Dr. Phil
I think that allowing this game would get out the killing instinct some of us have. In USA they don't have this game, so the go for a man hunt instead.

Katie Hopkins
I think that fox hunting should not be banned and that people have been losing their jobs and homes like a click of a finger. It is peoples belief and they have the right to do what they want. Why do they ban it now when it when it has been going on for years?

Rosie Millichap
i think that the ban is absalouty barbaric and totally out of order!!! baning hunting is like putting farmers etc. in jail because they simply have nothing left in their life! so there fore the ban should be broken!!!

mad foxhunter
big up to all those fox hunters out there!!!

sophie tyers
i dont thin the new law will work and fox hunting shouldnt be baned and kept the same (age14)oxon

Fox hunting is totally mean!!! Especially for fun!!!

Danielle Harrison
Fox hunting discusts me and for all you people who like fox hunting you should be ashamed of yourselves just think if you were a fox would you like to be shot or torn to death think about who's side your on a murdurer's side or the kind helpers side.

A fox hunting enthusiast
The ban was an idiotic thing to attempt. Rural life hasn't changed in many cases and people are afraid of what they don't know.

Alex Nelson
this ban should not be implace. it took far too long to go through the houses of commons and i do not thinck it will stop the violent deaths, the reason for the ban. it is a long lasting tradition and should still be leagl.

Fox hunting mustn't continue as foxes are hurt!

Hannah C
the hunting ban will not work because foxes are still dying! on the first day of the new season 100 foxes died. foxes are pests. they are like rodants, they kill chickens in cold blood whereas the fox is not killed in cold blood, I have grown up with fox hunting and the goverment don't understand the importance of fox hunting to us country people thank you!!!

miss l bailey
i have grown up with horses and hounds alike and think that this proposterous ban imposed by the government will be near impossible to enforce and the prosequition of those who break the law will be exceedingly difficult to prove

fox hunting is wrong. Creatures shoulkd be left to live , they will die natrually

Keep it we englishmen have had fox hunting for many many years, it has become one of our troditions here in england.

Richard Howitt
As a born & bred country person I believe that the vast majority of the population of this country despise hunting with dogs, and like me despise the people who seem to enjoy this despicable "sport". The argument that the fox population will increase and become unmanageable is flawed beyond belief. The population of any species is self regulating, when food resources deminish so will the fox population. In the meantime the rabbit population, which is increasingly becoming the major damaging factor in the countryside, will be reduced if the fox is left alone to get on living it's natural life. Let those that need to see bloodsports take up boxing, and hurt each other leaving the countryside in peace!

As our ancestors wiped out all the large predators such as wolves that used to control the fox population of Britain, it is our duty to control it ourselves. While many say they disagree with fox hunting because no human would like to be chased and killed by a dog, I'd rather that than die of starvation because I had no food left, or gangreen after trapping! Think about it - hunting is the most humane way to deal with the problem.

ben tee
59% of people say KEEP HUNTING so there!!!

tilly goode
although fox hunting is now 'illegal' what difference does it make to anti-hunt members and the RSPCA because foxes can, by law, be killed by a bir of prey or even shot after being flushed out by two hounds.

i miss hunting

fox hunting is cruel

David Dean
You call it a sport? who wins this sport every year? hounds! who suffer every year? foxes, foxes and humans are safer in towns and citys we are both treated equally.

James Podmore
i believe that fox hunting shouldn't be banned, but then yet i believe that they shouldn't be as rough to them. you see, if we stop hunting foxes, then the population of foxes will increase. but if we continue, the population of foxes is balanced. i also believe that it should be on a specific day than daily to (hopefully) make everyone happy.

chelsea wilneff
I think that fox hunting should be banned forever it dicusts me entierly because the fox has done nothing to your horses or dogs mabeyif you were the one being hunted you would change your mind as well

Nancy Williams
Banning fox hunting is a bizarre and shortsighted political "stunt." Note that foxes can still be shot, and as a commenter here noted, the ones that are trapped are already showing signs of illness, which often is from overpopulation stress. Foxhunting clears to country of the sick foxes, plus it gives adults and youth a marvelous opportunity appreciate Nature, support outdoor sports, and love horses and hounds for the brilliant athletes they are.

Jasmin Summerson
I think fox hunting shouldn't have been banned in the first place it is a traditonal sport and many people injoy it!!!

I am currently writing an essay on fox hunting and i must say that both sides have very good arguments for and against the ban.

Robbie Alderson
I think that the ban on fox hunting should not follow throw. I believe that it is a fun country sport that Tony Blair and other members of the Labour goverment do not seem to understand that they have made a traditional sport that has been going on for goodness knows how long come to a standstill. The antis ourt to learn that life is hard and life is stern. Since the ban more foxhounds have had to be put down just because a load of stupid people do not understand that the fox does not suffer when the dogs have got it. I was shocked to see in the papers last year, people with servre head injuries after fighting for their rights. So i think that the new law of fox hunting is completeley pointless because no one is paying any heed to it.

I am a farmer, (Gloucestershire), the ban has nothing to do with class (that whole argument is just an outcry for sympathy) the ban is about human decency. If I had a problem with a fox (which I never have in 30 years of farming!) I'd shoot it, problem gone. I would take no pleasure in the death. Don't forget this bill also protects other mammals, deer are not predatory animals, how can anybody justify torturing such an animal under the banner of 'population control'? There are humane methods to deal with all problems. Listen, here speaks a voice from the country, we aren't all gagging for blood!

Matthew Willis
I think we should keep hunting because it is a country and traditional sport. i also think that if we don't hunt then the foxes will kill all the livestock such as chickens because there is no one to kill the foxes


Tox townhill
I think fox hunting should be band because it is. killung animals like rabits and hear.

carly sheridan
I think that fox huting should be alond because they come in your gerden and spred jermes.

jessica vwh hunt
hunting is a way of life for all those who have a problem with it then go and try it, or consult felix BAN THE BAN !

none of you have ever seen a fox take a rabbit or a young animal so when you do you might change your mind

i agree with sophie!! u go girl

its must be banned the foxes die awfully

fox hunting must be banned

72% of people want fox hunting banned. It is heavily exaggerated about foxes killing livestock and also the amount of jobs lost due to fox hunting. Only a few upper, and upper middle class people actaully care for fox hunting, the majority of people do not, as it does not affect them, it is unfair such time and effort is wasted on such a exclusive issue, theres so much more important issues to deal with. Fox hunting is unneccesary and should be banned, and just because the people involved have money and stature does not mean we should waste our and parliaments time on the issue. J 2 da B

I don't understand why people like 2 watch a defenceless animal being killed and they find the pleasure in watching them die so im against !!!

sophie bacon
i want fox hunting to be made legal again, i have hunted a whole season with my dad and know that not many foxes are killed, i would like to keep huntng going!! keep hunting keep fighting Many people say hunting kills - but so does the ban. The foxs will be killed anyway but the dogs could be kept alive and bred to hunt. The real murders are the antihunters. ban the ban!!!

i think that fox hunting is cruel and it is a good job that they have baned it

kenneth clarke
stop it

frank murray
The 2005 Hunting Act banned the "working mans" sport of HARE COURSING along with Fox and Stag hunting with Dogs. So..its a pretty stupid comment from MARK O'NEIL, or anyone else, to claim it was a "class issue" thing against the Rich..

Nothing to do with animal welfare typical spineless labour goverment class issue!

catherine hort
fox hunting is discusting im 11 years of age and i have a very strong point of this barbaric sport there is no nead for this sport and you are killing pure nature you make me sick

Frank Murray
19thC foxhunting is illegal and obselete despite what the Fitzwilliam Hunt say... Nowadays local Councils,Pest Control,DEFRA and the RSPCA all use humane "Live Cage" fox traps. These are baited with synthetic 'fox-pherenome' and connected to a mobile phone pager.(This means that you can be at home watching TV when the phone rings to let you know a fox has been caught!) The choice is,either release the fox UNHARMED,or painlessly and humanely destroy it,unfortunately many caught foxes have Mange (Scabies). We don't dress up in red coats pretending to control foxes while breeding them for cruel 'Sport',but quietly and efficiently do our job. If you ever get a fox problem ,try Pest Control (Yellow Pages)or at least, someone who lives in the 21stC.

Lorna McGuinness
I think they should bring back hunting it is not the same. There will be so many jobs losed with this silly ban. I am going to support my local and i am going to hunt with in the law.

jenny holmes
ban hunting is nasty and i disagree wiv it. how wud the hunters enjoy being chased and eaten...!!!!!

Alex Davies
The ban on fox hunting is a farsical whim, brought about by people who know nothing more of the sport than the propaganda that they produce themselves. I am a student, and as such am witness to some of the greatest shows of bigotry and hypocrisy Britain has to offer - especially the "ethno-rah" neuvo-hippy types that proliferate in our university system, enforcing incredibly profound beliefs upon the unsuspecting population that appear tenuously based on hearsay rather than knowledge. These are the people that need to wake up, get some perspective. I have no problem with a fox being killed; there are people starving on the streets, homeless and hopeless. That surely is more cause for concern than the banning of a sport that is harmless in societal terms, and represents a great tradition. The world is no safer for children, grandchildren or anybody else for that matter as a result of this ban. It merely represents a triumph of predjudice over common sense, of madness over sanity. [This comment appears in edited form]

kirsty naughtn
i am totaly against fox hunting because would you like a big dog to come and bite your bum

sophie dunn
I dont no Realy its bad and good in some ways!

Jayne Dearing
I am a Nurse/Midwife/Health Visitor who hunts with and supports the Fitzwilliam Hunt -the ban has now proved it has not 'saved' a single fox -it is not about animal welfare but Labour MP's who feel all who hunt are upper class snobs. I, and many others who hunt both with the Fitz and countrywide, are living proof that this is not so- I am working class and originally from Yorkshire.

i h8 fox hunting

Philip Slane
If John Cooper was right in saying that a hunting ban brings a more decent and humane society even I would support a ban. However, the truth is that without hunting with hounds, foxes are inevitably left to suffer a slow death caused by wounding from shooting. Furthermore, sick or wounded foxes are not found (which hounds do so efficiently) in order to be despatched humanely. This is shown to be the case in Scotland, despite every effort made to kill humanely within the law. A chased fox is either killed outright from the massive impact of hounds or escapes completely unharmed.

The law is still there so we must obay it! but then again rulse were made to be broken werent they

Freddie Harris
I doubt the new ban will have much affect as the hunters seem very much set in their ways. The argument that dogs will be killed due to the hunting ban is not very inspired as the simple answer is to exercise the existing dogs in other ways and then stop breeding more dogs. There is very little actual employment in fox hunting and so I cannot understand where these "major" job losses will come from. I think in order for the ban to work there cannot be any of the "artificial" hunts because it is near impossible to tell between a pack of dogs chasing a real animal to the dogs chasing a fake scent and once the dogs have found a real scent it is near impossible to get them to stop chasing.

Ellie Burrough
Fox huntng rocks!!!! Hunt come on my farm and it is amazing. Tony Blair is So stupid!!

matthew pike
keep fox huntung because it is great, and it has been around for years and is a way of life for people. if hunting stops most of the hounds would have to be killed and some of the horses so more animals woyld be killed than the amount of fox's on hunts.

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