The Hunting Office and Countryside Alliance have backed calls to amend the Hunting Act — enabling farmers in England and Wales to use a full pack of hounds to flush foxes.

Under the proposal — put forward by the Federation of Welsh Farmers Packs (FWFP) — the law banning farmers from using more than two dogs to flush foxes to the gun would be scrapped.

The move would be the first change to one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in modern history.

Three-quarters of Welsh hill farmers say they have lost more lambs to foxes since the Hunting Act became law in 2005.

New research carried out for the FWFP in Scotland last winter (where there is no limit on the number of dogs used) suggested that using a full pack of hounds was almost twice as effective as using a pair.

“There was never any justification for the two-dog limit and what this research shows it is as bad for the fox as it is the farmer,” said FWFP chairman Ken Jones.

“Trying to find a fox in thousands of acres of forestry with two dogs is nigh on impossible and as the fox population grows, our lamb losses rise,” he added.

DEFRA confirmed that it was studying the Federation’s research. Downing Street indicated that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, was “sympathetic” to the Federation’s concerns.

Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance said they supported the call for the removal of the two-dog limit. But he added that “any amendment must not be seen as an alternative to the full repeal or replacement of the Hunting Act.

His words were echoed by Hunting Office director Tim Easby.

He told H&H: “We want full repeal and a resumption of hunting in its purest form — but this is about the real impact for farmers and their livestock in some of the most marginal farming areas in Britain.”