Cumbria

Cumbria Police to monitor hunts

Police in Cumbria are to launch an operation monitoring hunting activities in the county.

Officers will carry out patrols at meetings as part of Operation Kilowatt.

The Hunting Act 2004 made it illegal to hunt a wild animal with a dog, with certain exceptions.

The League Against Cruel Sports welcomed the police announcement, but a Countryside Alliance spokesman called it "a waste of money" and police resources.

Police say they have "consistently" received reports of illegal hunting and suspicious activity, as well as complaints regarding associated offences.

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These include intimidation and harassment, assault, public order, obstruction of the highway and driving offences.

The force is to liaise with agencies such as the National Trust, Lake District National Park and United Utilities, who are the major landowners and who operate a licensing system to allow trail or drag hunting activity.

Trail or drag hunting was introduced to replace the hunting of foxes by dogs. This involves the laying of a scent before the hounds are released to 'hunt' the scent.

Dawn Varley, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said 285 people had been convicted nationwide for breaching the act since it came into force in February 2005.

She added: "We believe Cumbria Police is to be commended for putting resources and effort into checking hunts are acting within the law."

However, the Countryside Alliance wants the act repealed. Spokesman Tim Bonner said the police operation was "pointless and a waste of money".

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