ANTI-HUNT SUPPORTERS have adopted the tactics of animal rights extremists and visited the homes of suspected illegal huntsmen in an attempt to intimidate them, a leading police chief revealed last week.
Nigel Yeo, the Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex, said that the incidents had been "mercifully very few" but were cause for concern that anti-hunters were adopting the same tactics as opponents of animal experimentation and embarking on a campaign of personal intimidation.
Mr Yeo warned fellow officers about the reaction of some in the anti-hunt movement once they realised that enforcing the Hunting Act, which was enacted in February this year, would remain a low priority for police in the coming season, which begins in the autumn.
Addressing the annual conference of Association of Chief Police Officers in Birmingham, he said: "At the extreme end of the anti-hunt movement we are not that far away from the beginning of the Animal Liberation Front and the stop animal cruelty groups."
Such groups were monitoring the activities of pro-hunt activists who were determined to "hunt at the margins" - trying to get as close as possible to traditional foxhunting.
He added: "There has been some protest in the margins, as I would call it, which is visits to the person's house - the stuff that's well known to those who have had to live through animal extremists' protests. Will that be the way the [anti-hunt] protest begins to go? I don't know. I hope not."
The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance also came under fire from Mr Yeo who described it as "tetchy" in its attitude.
Its handbook on hunting was filled with the comment "when the Act is repealed", he said. "But my look to the future is that it will not be repealed in the lifetime of this Parliament. How will they react to that realisation, I may find out in the near future." Mr Yeo said there had been 40 to 50 recorded allegations of breaches of the Hunting Act. Police are currently investigating five of them.