Sir - I wish Jon Burgess was correct in his denial that fox hunts kill about 5,000 of their hounds every year ("The sums about hunting don't add up", WN, January 9th).

However, extensive research carried out in 2011 by Alan Kirby MSc (which can be found at indicates that "the numbers of hounds deliberately and unnecessarily killed by their own hunts per annum in the UK is probably somewhere between 4,942 and 7,302".

This means that Jane Hargreaves ("Hunting ban needs to be strengthened", WN, January 8th) is more or less correct in her claim that "if hunts are still meeting in 100 years, about half a million of their hounds will have been shot, or killed by other methods, in that time".

I"m wondering if Mr Burgess could enlighten us as to what happens to all the foxhound pups that are unsuitable for hunting and the older dogs that are "retired" from the pack at between five and seven years of age.

Is he expecting people to believe these dogs are all kept alive and looked after for the rest of their natural lifespan, which can be as much as 13 years? Surely, it is this that would "make keeping any pack of hounds totally impossible" because the kennels would be full of non-hunting dogs.

What is Jon Burgess's own estimate of the number of foxhounds put to death ever year? Even if it were only one tenth of what Jane Hargreaves alleges, that would still be horrendous!

And strange that Jon Burgess attempts to cite the RSPCA in his defence of fox hunts, seeing as that organisation is firmly opposed to hunting and strongly in favour of the restrictions imposed by the Hunting Act.

Isobel Thorpe