TWO fox-hunts have met near St Albans since the ban against the practice came into force two weeks ago.

On Saturday, February 19, the second day of the ban, the Aldenham Harriers met in the Kimpton area, and the Cambridgeshire and Enfield Chase met in Hatfield Park.

Police attended both events, and a third at Puckeridge in the east of the county, but there were no disturbances or reports of illegal activity Superintendent Al Thomas, who oversaw the operation, said: "We are very pleased that the day passed without incident, and are satisfied that we had appropriate levels of policing to deal with any potential conflict between pro- and anti-hunt supporters."

Although hunting foxes and most other mammals with dogs is now illegal, there are loopholes, and sceptics doubt whether the law is enforcable in practice.

For instance, one or two dogs can be used to flush a fox from cover, which can then be shot.

Nationally, 91 foxes were killed by hunts on that Saturday, although none was in Hertfordshire.

Mr Keith Newland, the master of the Cambridge and Enfield Chase who lives in Essendon, said he and other members had no intention of breaking the law.

The hounds, which are housed in kennels in Cambridgeshire, are being re-trained for "trail hunting" a more testing form of drag hunting, in which a runner lays a scent for the hounds.

He said: "We had a very good day 200 riders, and over 1,000 on foot to watch.

"It was a show of support for the hunt."

He said until the dogs had been thoroughly retrained, the meetings would just exercise them and the horses, as he did not want to take a chance of breaking the law.

But Mr Newland and other hunters are determined to campaign for the ban to be reversed.

The Countryside Alliance is hoping its argument that the ban is unconstitutional, rejected by the Court of Appeal, will be given leave to go the law lords.

There may be other legal challenges to the legislation on human rights grounds.

St Albans man Fionn Napier, who is a strong supporter of the ban, said: "Ninety-one is a significant improvement on 400-plus, which is how many foxes were killed on a typical day before.

"The ban has clearly had an effect.

"There are police investigations into five separate incidents in the country.

"The ban has made a difference, and I hope that will continue."