THE WELSH Assembly could apply to Parliament for a Transfer of Function Order allowing fox hunting with more than two dogs to continue.

Lord Elis Thomas, the Assembly‘s presiding officer, says the exempt hunting section of the bill could be amended so dogs can be used to flush foxes from inaccessible areas like forestry to where they can be shot.

He told members of Meirionydd NFU that a request for a devolved policy in Wales could come from rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones, or from the Assembly itself, if the majority of members agreed.

“I remind you of the vote taken on June 26 in 2000 in which there was a majority for any hunting bill to be devolved to the Assembly. Constitutionally this decision still stands.”

The Farmers Union of Wales has warned of “a bloody spring” on Welsh farms unless the hunting ban is overturned or delayed.

The blood would not result from clashes between hunt supporters and police but from lambs savaged by uncontrolled foxes.

“It is ironic that so much Parliamentary time has been spent debating the welfare of foxes, but virtually none has been spent on the welfare of the new born lambs that fall prey to these pests,” said Rhian Nowell-Phillips, the union‘s senior policy officer.

In Wales large tracts of land were adjacent to forestry land and this made the use of dogs the only effective means of control.

“The Forestry Commission has already given notice that if the new law come into force on February 16, all hunting agreements will cease – although they have not yet revealed how foxes will be controlled in future.”