ENGLISH FOXHUNTERS are planning to move to Scotland to exploit a loophole in the foxhunting ban if the sport is prohibited south of the border.
Last week MPs voted overwhelmingly for an outright ban on hunting when the Governments amended Hunting Bill gained its Third reading. Some campaigners have said they will defy the ban which threatens their livelihoods and are willing to face heavy fines or even prison, whilst hoping that local police forces will not even attempt to clamp down on illegal hunting.
Others, while hopeful that the motion will yet be thrown out by the House of Lords, plan to come to Scotland on "hunting tourism" trips.
"Many of us dont believe a ban will happen in England," said Roddy Baird, master of the Morpeth hunt in Northumberland, "but it is conceivable that Scotland could become the only place (in mainland Britain) where a form of hunting could continue."
Scotland would be a preferred destination among huntsmen in the north of England who believe the Scottish legislation banning hunting which came into force last August, is flawed and has failed to ban hunting with hounds completely.
Under the Protection of Wild Mammals Act (Scotland), foxes can be flushed from woodland by hounds but must be killed by waiting marksmen. In reality, guns are often placed long distances from where a fox is hunted, allowing hunters to pursue foxes on horseback towards the guns.
Since the ban came into force only one of the countrys 10 licensed hunts the Dumfriesshire has disbanded. The other nine offer a pest-control service to landowners and farmers, hunting foxes that damage or threaten livestock.
A spokesman for the Master of Fox Hounds Association which represents UK hunts added: "People will almost certainly go to Scotland to hunt. It will be impossible for entire hunts to relocate."