Northern Ireland farmers join anti-cruelty group to call for hunt ban
Northern Ireland farmers have joined forces with animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports to call for a hunting ban.
The call follows an event organised by the league on Friday at which farmers met charity campaigners to discuss the havoc caused by hunts crossing their land.
Concerns were raised at the forum that hunts are also behind anti-social behaviour and public order offences, and that their hounds also present a bio-security threat in the countryside. Farmland being churned up and boundary fencing being damaged were also named as issues.
Janice Watt of the League Against Cruel Sports said: "It is apparent that many farmers are concerned at the behaviour of hunts in Co Down.
"Our aim is to help farmers know the correct course of action to help combat hunt incidents on their land without putting themselves in danger."
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without a ban on hunting with dogs.
Farmers were encouraged to report incidents to the police at the event in Rathfriland Young Farmers' Club. They were also encouraged to log any incidents and report these confidentially to the league.
Ms Watt added: "There are hundreds of farmers out there frustrated by the way the hunts act but who may be afraid of retaliation. We will make sure their voices are heard.
"Twenty-first century farms have no need for fox hunting and this was clearly voiced by farmers at the forum."