Hunts are being urged to remain calm but vigilant after several incidents — including one violent — with anti-hunting campaigners.
Last month (24 January) joint-master and huntsman Mike Lane was left with two fractured teeth and concussion following a clash between hunt saboteurs and members of the Tedworth.
Mr Lane claims he was kicked in the head by saboteurs when hounds were boxing up at the end of the day near Everleigh in Wiltshire.
Anti-hunt protestors from Bristol wearing balaclavas and face masks, and Southampton hunt saboteur groups, had been present all day.
“We were legally trail-hunting and the saboteurs had been following us all day,” a hunt spokesman said.
“At the end of the day, there was an incident in which our huntsman fell to the ground and was kicked in the head.
“There was a definite feeling of an increased level of hostility towards us, and the behaviour was more threatening than usual.”
The Countryside Alliance (CA) is urging hunts to write to their local police, crime commissioners and MPs about masked animal rights activists.
“There have been a number of attacks carried out by hunt saboteurs wearing combat style clothing with their faces covered by balaclavas or masks. Most perpetrators are never identified,” said Tim Bonner of the CA.
“The police do have powers to order the removal of face coverings, but they are not straightforward.
“Because the process is complicated, we believe police forces should be prepared to deploy these powers when animal rights extremists appear in their areas,” said Mr Bonner.
“Where police forces are prepared to use these powers, we believe that the likelihood of intimidation and public disorder is reduced.”
Ref: H&H 11 February, 2015