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Scottish hunt forced to “downsize”

One of Scotland’s oldest hunts has been forced to down size following a local landowner’s announcement that he will no longer allow them to hunt across his land

Hounds from the Dumfriesshire Hunt are to be drafted to hunts in France next week, following the announcement from local landowner, Sir Rupert Buchanan-Jardine, that he would no longer allow the hunt access to his 20,000-acre estate.

From August 1 this year,landowners can be taken to court under the Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act if a mounted hunt is held on their property. Fear of prosecution is said to have put pressure on Sir Rupert to take the decision.

Hunt Master Nicky Birkbeck saidthat, contrary to reports in The Daily Telegraph yesterday, the Dumfriesshire was not disbanding, only reorganising.

“The hounds we used to hunt with are unsuitable for terrain that includes major roads and railways. We are looking to form a smaller pack of more manageable animals.”

Some of Scotland’s nine other hunts are striving to work within the boundaries of the new law by offering farmers a free pest control service whereby hounds are used to flush outthe fox which is then shot. This is an interim measure until the outcome of the legal challenges to the legislation is known.

Ms Birkbeck, who has been hunt master since the late 1980s, explained: “We aim to be able to do the same as soon asa few of the logistics are sorted out. We will have to find new kennels and take measures such as reducing the number of hounds in our pack.”

“It seems strange to have to start all over again from the beginning, but we are confidentthat someday someone will see sense; the ban doesn’t work and fails to help anyone, least of all the foxes.”

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