More than 250 hunts across the country will meet on 19 February 2005, the day after the hunting ban comes into force in England and Wales.
The intention of the organisers, the Countryside Alliance, is to show that hunts will carry on legally in spite of the ban. They will all hunt within the law, and will have gained permission from landowners to carry out legal hunting activities.
“We’re going to say that we’re exercising the hounds, or out hunting rabbits. The intent to hunt foxes is the crime – it’s not a crime to get on a horse with a red jacket on,” said an Alliance spokesperson.
The meets will be widely advertised and placed to gain as much exposure as possible in order to drum up local support for the hunts, which, the Countryside Alliance has asserted, will continue to meet until the end of the season.
“We see it as a temporary ban, so the most important thing is to keep the structure in place, but also we will be out in protest at the ridiculous ban which will be impossible to police,” said the spokesperson.
Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance said: “The 19 February will be an opportunity for the rural community, and all who support liberty, to show their determination to fight this ridiculous and unenforceable legislation until it is repealed.”
The start of the ban will coincide with a visit to London from the International Olympic Committee, to evaluate the capital’s bid for the 2012 Games.
A pro-hunt organisation called CALO (Campaign Against the London Olympics), led by Robin Page, Chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust, is planning to highlight the plight of hunters in the face of the ban by disrupting the IOC’s visit.