IT is a great credit to police in the Marlborough and Pewsey areas that several illegal hare coursing gangs have been tackled with warnings, cautions and arrests, but what about underhand fox hunting?

Hunt spokesmen approached by the press at open meetings and again at Boxing Day meets, invariably claim to have substituted trails for live victims. In fact, trailing fox urine about in Warwickshire and Gloucestershire on a fox’s brush, where foxes are known to dwell, has suspiciously often led to havoc incidents and foxes hacked and savaged to death. These people admit to mistakes and that accidents sometimes happen - if they do not call off hounds as soon as they leave the trail one has to question their intentions.

One hundred and eight instances of hunt havoc between May 1, 2006 and April 5, 2008 clearly indicate that this is unacceptable behaviour. In November 2005, 20 Avon Vale hounds were seen chasing a fox through a garden near the A360 with the huntsmen only calling off the hounds “as soon as they realised that they were chasing a fox” (after running all over a vegetable garden!).

In February 2006, Vale of White Horse hunt staff admitted to fox hunting “it is unavoidable and unintentional” - in spite of claims to trail hunt and their awareness that hounds instinct “takes over” when foxes appear, in a television documentary.

Vale of White Horse hounds badly frightened a horse with a bad chest infection after invading her field in November 2006. Old Berkshire hounds killed a fox on Woodland Trust property in 2007 and in December 2007 New Forest Beagles were observed using beaters in front of hounds. This September Isle of Wight hounds chased and attacked a pet whippet.

Clearly it is not unreasonable for the League Against Cruel Sports to step up monitoring and call on police chiefs to give higher priority to enforcing the Hunting Act. Seventy-five per cent of rural residents supporting the ban and a strong League Against Cruel Sports support base in Wiltshire should make it clear that live animal hunting is no longer tolerated in rural communities and that attitudes on the part of the pro-hunt minority and law enforcers must change.

(Miss) KATHERINE WATSON Rushton Drive Bramhall Stockport Cheshire