IN her letter, Heather Causnett asks "Does the hunt block bolt-holes for foxes?" and I think she is hoping the answer is no, but I'm afraid it is true.

This practice is known as earth stopping and was considered a vital part of a good day's fox hunting.

I think it is doubtful that the epic chases recorded in past hunting reports would have been possible without the practice.

Earth stopping was discussed at length during the Burns Inquiry into hunting during 2000 and Simon Hart, of the Countryside Alliance, is recorded in the oral evidence section on April 6 as saying "Earth stopping's principal purpose always was to be done at night, while foxes were out feeding; so that they then lay up above ground so they could be found on the day's hunting."

The Hunting Inquiry Final Report also has a section dealing with the rules issued by the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and their Conduct Of Hunting, where it states that earth stoppers must hold a card issued by the MFHA confirming that their role is an official one.

The Hunting Inquiry Final Report and the oral evidence can be found on the web at Sorry Heather.

Mrs G E Purser, Clapton-on-the-Hill, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.