A popular Exmoor beauty spot has been closed off to walkers by its owner in protest at the hunting ban.

The area is known as “Snowdrop Valley” to locals, thanks to the flower which thrives in the area every spring. It draws thousands of visitors every year, and it is thought the move will have a damaging effect on the local economy.

The landowner, the Badgworthy Land Company, has strong hunting connections. The company’s chairman, Tom Yandle, also chairs the Devon and Somerset staghounds, and is an outspoken pro-hunt activist.

In a letter to the Exmoor National Park Authority the company’s directors expressed their regret at any harm that will be done to the local economy. However, they said, there was no choice but to adopt this course of action in protest at the hunting legislation.

The incident is the latest act of passive non-cooperation by pro-hunt protesters, whereby legal protests are made through acts of non-cooperation with official bodies. Such action has been encouraged by the Countryside Alliance in the wake of the Hunting Bill’s turbulent passage through parliament last month.

A spokeswoman from the Alliance said: “The government has caused huge anger in the countryside through their dishonest behaviour on the hunting issue. They cannot expect the countryside not to react.”