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Boxing Day hunts went ahead yesterday, despite the outdated practice being largely cancelled this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The already-controversial activity is reported to have seen reduced numbers, with town centre parades called off, but hunts still faced criticism as millions were forced to spend the Christmas period alone - especially in Tier 4 areas.
The move was criticised by the Labour Party, who suggested that the hunts being able to go ahead proved there was 'one rule for the Conservatives and their mates, another for everybody else'.
The Countryside Alliance, a pro-hunting group, said the tradition was suspended in Tier 4, but elsewhere the number of packs of hounds were reduced, with the public unable to attend the Boxing Day meets.
Polly Portwin, Countryside Alliance's head of hunting, said: "Like other outdoor sporting activities, hunting has been able to continue today in a Covid-secure manner, offering those who have been able to participate an opportunity to enjoy the countryside.
"We hope that all hunts will be able to meet in villages and town centres again on Boxing Day in 2021 and be able to welcome the tens of thousands of supporters for whom this event is an integral part of their annual festivities."
The Middleton Hunt, based in Yorkshire, usually hosts two Boxing Day meets, one in Malton and one in Driffield. But this year, activities were moved away from populated areas.
Ralph Richardson, joint-master and huntsman of the Middleton Hunt, said: "We know how important this occasion is for them so, when we are able to, we will arrange to take the hounds another day to make up for not being able to visit them today."
And Luke Pollard, Labour's shadow environment secretary, said: "Families across the country are rightly following Covid restrictions this Christmas.
"But for those whose passion is hunting, it is a festive free-for-all, after the Conservatives exempted them from restrictions outside Tier 4.
"Yet again, it's one rule for the Conservatives and their mates, another for everybody else.
"We need to close the loopholes so fox hunting can be consigned to the history books where it belongs."
The National Trust, Forestry England, Lake District National Park, United Utilities and Natural Resources Wales all suspended hunting on their land, while police investigate claims that the activity is a 'smokescreen' for real hunting of foxes.
Although trail hunting is legal, animal rights activists say it doesn't offer much protection for foxes.
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