Record numbers follow hounds in Britain

LONDON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- An estimated 300,000 people followed the hounds on horseback Monday in Britain in the traditional Boxing Day hunts.

The record number of participants came after two years during which hunts were canceled because of heavy snow, The Daily Telegraph reported. Efforts by fox hunting groups to increase support for the sport may have had an effect as well.


Few anti-hunting protesters were out Monday, the Telegraph said. Activists said they are focusing on using hidden cameras to catch hunts breaking the law.

Using dogs to kill foxes is now banned in Britain, and most hunts instead follow an artificial scent laid down for the hounds. The Conservative Party Coalition plans, but has not scheduled, a parliamentary vote that could reverse the ban -- although its ally, the Liberal Democrats, support the ban along with Labor and some "blue fox" Tories.

"All the anecdotal evidence is that the ban is bad for animal welfare, bad for the countryside, bad for the rural economy and a waste of police resources," said George Freeman, a Conservative member of Parliament whose father was a prominent jockey and winner of the Grand National.


Freeman suggested the government hold an investigation on the effect of the ban before any vote.

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