Around 30 hunts are expected to re-start activities today, as DEFRA’s lifts the FMD-imposed ban

Hunting will resume today in FMD-free areas for the first time since the countryside crisis began more than nine months ago.

So far around 30 hunts have been licenced to begin hunting activities and more are expected to follow.

Licenced hunts must comply with regulations to prevent any risk of bringing back the disease.All mounted and foot followers must be from FMD-free counties and their horses must be stabled within the boundaries of the hunt country or adjacent FMD-free areas.

Sam Butler, chairman of the Campaign for Hunting, welcomed the restart of activities and said: “The resumption of hunting is a clear signal that rural communities can begin to get back to normal.”

Farmers are expected to welcome the resumption of hunting as many have experienced a noticeable increase in fox numbers since hunting ceased. The Farmers Union of Wales has reported an increasing number of calls from farmers concerned about the effects of a lack of control of the fox population.

Northumberland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire – the final areas of the country still affected by FMD restrictions – have now been reclassified as “at risk”, which means if there are no more outbreaks these counties will become “FMD-free” by the end of December.

Once classified as free from the disease, hunts in these counties will also be able to apply for permits to resume hunting.