Protestors pledge to ignore ban on hunting with dogs.

Protests have begun in England and Wales against moves to outlaw hunting with dogs.

On the first day of the new hunting season, thousands of protesters at eleven rallies are to make their feelings known and many are expected to sign a petition pledging to ignore any ban.

About 6,000 people have reportedly signed the declaration stating they will peacefully disobey any ban on hunting.

To the chagrin of Tony Blair, who offered a free vote on the thorny issue to MPs in June, the Hunting Bill was rejected again by peers in the House of Lords.

Peers in the second chamber effectively killed off the bill on Thursday when they ran out of time to debate it.

The Government may be compelled to use the Parliament Act to force legislation onto the statute books.

The protests are being organised by the Countryside Alliance and the Council of Hunting Associations.

Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: "This is not a step that anyone will be taking lightly, but many people feel that it is a legitimate act of protest in response to the threat of deeply prejudiced legislation."