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New hunting licenses proposed

Proposals for a DEFRA-run authority to license and control hunting have been drawn up

Wildlife expert Dr Nick Fox has drawn up proposals for a DEFRA-run wildlife authority to license and control hunting in England and Wales.

Dr Fox, who gave evidence to the hunting hearings and is vice-chairman of the Carmarthenshire hunt, has produced the report in an attempt to offer a legal solution to the issue of hunting with dogs.

It has been welcomed by the Middle Way Group, and spokesman Jim Barrington said: “The report outlines a middle way forward and tackles the concerns of both sides of the argument. It provides a solution, something which has evaded governments for decades.”

Dr Fox’s proposals include a ban on hunting with dogs above and below ground, but with the exception for holders of special licences – a general licence binding dog owners (including hunts) to set conditions for hunting above ground and an individual licence to allow dogs to flush out quarry below ground.

Dr Fox also suggests that hunts apply for permits to allow them to operate on each holding in their country. Permits should state whether spectators (mounted or on foot) are allowed on the land.

Dr Fox anticipates that, under these arrangements, wildlife inspectors would have the power to enter a property to check out licensed hunting activity and ensure thatit complies with the set conditions.

The report includes examples of current legislation affecting pest control, as well as a detailed proposal for a foxhunting licence.

It has been submitted to Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael, who is currently drawing up legislation on hunting, and to a number of countryside groups.

The Campaign for Hunting’s Simon Hart said: “Legislation must stand the test of time, not make martyrs out of people, and must be based on evidence. Any proposal, whether backed by the Middle Way Group or not, must achieve those objectives.”

Read more hunting news in today’s Horse & Hound (10 October), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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