ONe of Scotland's oldest foxhunts has become the first casualty of the ban on hunting with hounds. The Dumfriesshire Hunt has been disbanded because it is no longer allowed to use the fields over which it has hunted for more than 150 years.
Sir Rupert Buchanan-Jardine has told the organisers that he could face prosecution if he continued to give the hunt access to his 20,000-acre estate. Under the Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, landowners can be taken to court if an illegal mounted hunt is held on their property.
Sir Rupert, 79, a keen supporter of the hunt, said: "I regret having to do this but the decision is not mine -it has been forced on me by the Scottish Parliament. To tell the hunt my ground was no longer available wasn't something I did lightly because I know hunting is a way of life in the countryside, certainly in this part of the world."
Scotland's nine other hunts are awaiting the outcome of legal challenges to the legislation, which came into force in the summer, and some are offering a fox destruction service in which hounds are used to flush out foxes to be shot by marksmen.
Supporters of the Dumfriesshire said its disappearance would have a "drastic" effect on an area from Lockerbie to Dumfries.
John Carruthers, the kennelman, said he and his wife Isobel and their 10-year-old son faced an uncertain future. Some of his distinctive black and tan hounds have been sold to hunts in France, Ireland and England.
"What is it to those in towns and cities what we do in the countryside," he said. "I'm heartbroken at losing my hounds. I'm keeping only one, Pytchley, which is my favourite.
"The black and tans are unique to this hunt. They were specially bred with French hunting dogs in the 1920s to create larger hounds that have a loud cry that can by heard in dense woodland.
"Some people might try to keep the breed going. But the end of my hunt is an end of a way of life and I feel bitter and angry."
Hunt Master Nicky Birkbeck, 39, said: "Losing Sir Rupert's ground is something all of us dreaded. It's not his fault. It's the Scottish Parliament that has ruined our way of life and our sport."