A FORMER poacher turned animal activist has blasted new hunting laws as "ridiculous" and is calling for a blanket ban on fox hunting.

Terry Woods of the Hunt Saboteurs' Association, has branded the Hunting Act 2004 as an "unenforceable" and "unworkable" law which has done nothing to prevent the torture of thousands of foxes.

The 53-year-old Orpington resident claims huntsmen are exploiting loopholes in the law to get their "sick kicks" out of the blood sport.

While the new Act prevents hunting foxes with dogs, huntsmen are still able to kill foxes, lay a scent trail and proceed with the hunt.

Other loopholes allow hunters to use two hounds to flush a fox from its hole towards a gun.

As the traditional Boxing Day hunts got underway, Mr Woods hit out saying huntsmen were continuing to operate above the law, unaffected by the ban.

He said: "The vast majority of people involved in fox hunting are people from privileged backgrounds and it appears to me this farcical law has be designed by ministers purposely to allow the rich and powerful to find ways around it.

"What offends me most is when fox hunting was legal, police would often attend hunts to arrest protestors.

"But now police are turning a blind eye to hunters who are subjecting foxes to abject cruelty and blatantly breaking the law.

"The only way to enforce this law is to ban hunting full stop."

Mr Woods, who used to hunt animals, describes himself as a reformed character.

He became an animal activist more than 20 years ago after he shot at a bird and then watched as it lay in agony.

He joined the association nearly 12 years ago and has been an active campaigner ever since.

Peter Setterfield, regional director of the Countryside Alliance for south east England said: "The Hunting Act is unenforceable and we would like to see it abolished. I can categorically confirm hunts operate within the law and while it is possible a fox may still be killed by hounds, this would be purely accidental."


l The Hunting Act 2004 came into effect on February 18, 2005.

l The Act bans hunting a live mammal with a dog. Hunting in packs can still take place if the fox is killed humanely, before laying a scent trail for the hounds to follow.

l Other loopholes include using no more than two hounds to flush out a fox towards a gun.

l Birds of prey, such as falcons, are also being used in hunts to exploit loopholes in the law to enable falconry to continue.

l Some landowners are preventing police accessing the land to monitor hunts which has led protestors to brand the Act as unworkable and unenforceable.