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'Fewer foxes’ since hunt ban

NEW RESEARCH published this week on the second anniversary of the Hunting Act suggests that fox and deer numbers have fallen since it came into force.

The survey was carried out by over a third of the 184 hunts registered with the Masters of Foxhounds Association and recorded the observations of the hunts themselves, as well as farmers and gamekeepers in their areas. Key findings include:

36% of hunts reported that there were less foxes than before the Hunting Act

44% of hunts reported that fox numbers were the same

20% of hunts reported that there were more foxes

The highest proportion of hunts reporting the same or greater numbers of foxes were in upland areas. Hunts reporting the greatest decrease were in the South and South West of England.

The survey also recorded observations of foxes with sarcoptic mange, a disease caused by parasitic mites that causes hair loss, lacerations and eventually death. A lower incidence of mange was reported in the West Midlands, but there was an increased prevalence in East Anglia.

Two new outbreaks, in Cheshire and on the Isle of Wight, were also reported.

New research from the Exmoor and District Deer Management Society Consensus has revealed a 20% decrease in deer numbers in 2006 against a trend of steady rises over a ten-year period.

In 2005 - 2978 deer were monitored

In 2006 - 2398 deer were monitored

Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: ‘In the two years since the Hunting Act came into force it has been exposed as illogical and unworkable, and this research shows that it has also had a negative impact on the status and welfare on both the fox and the deer populations.

‘It is shocking to think that 700 hours of parliamentary time were spent, supposedly in the interests of animal welfare, devising a law which has failed at every level. The case for the repeal of the Hunting Act is unanswerable, and its eventual demise increasingly inevitable.’