A protest is being held in Peterborough today as the Festival of Hunting is held at The East of England Arena and Events Centre.
North Cambs Hunt Saboteurs are currently staging the peaceful protest outside the venue.
In a letter to the Peterborough Telegraph the group said: “We strongly believe that this is nothing more than a celebration of illegal hunting.
Theresa May’s pledge to hold a free vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act is widely seen as one of the reasons for the Conservatives’ loss of their majority at the General Election. Hunting is deeply unpopular (there are believed to be 70 Tory MPs who also oppose a repeal).
“We believe that the act actually needs strengthening. It is far from perfect, but it is all we have at the moment. We would also like to see the police actually enforce the act.
“One loophole of the act is the bird of prey exemption, which means hunts can use a pack of hounds and a bird of prey to “get around” the act. They use a pack of hounds to “flush a live quarry” to the waiting bird – which then kills the fox/hare/deer.
“However, we’re not sure how whizzing a hooded bird around fields on a quad bike and then making it compete with a pack of baying hounds for its prey is particularly fair. And the live animal is still chased to within an inch of its life. It’s barbaric and cruel.”
In contary to the protest, the pro-hunting event is described on the Festival of Hunting website as a: “historic and prestigious event is the annual showcase for the world of hunting and boasts the greatest gathering of hounds in the country. It is also an important day in many social calendars continuing a long-held tradition.
“2017 will celebrate the 129th Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show as well as the popular Inter Hunt relays where opposing teams of riders race each other over a mirror image set of jumps. In addition there will be a variety of showing classes.
“Harriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Draghounds and Bloodhounds will be competing as well as the Terrier championship. In addition there will be displays of fell hounds and coursing dogs.
“The in hand and ridden equine classes will return in 2017 with qualifiers for the Horse of the Year Show in many categories – including Ridden Hunters, Working Hunters, Working Hunter Ponies and Coloured Horses and Ponies. These qualifiers are fiercely competed for and bring the best horses and competitors from all over the country.”