EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) _ Several thousand people joined a march and rally in Edinburgh Sunday to protest legislation that would ban fox hunting in Scotland.

Allan Murray, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said the marchers were opposed to the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill, currently going through the Scottish Parliament, which would ban hunting with dogs.

``It amounts to social and economic vandalism perpetrated on the countryside by politicians determined to drive their fellow Scots out of their homes and jobs without a second thought for the consequences,'' said Murray, whose group organized the protest.

Philip Fergus, 33, said he joined the march because the legislation would put him out of work.

``The effect on my family's life will be catastrophic,'' said Fergus, who works for the Eglinton Hunt in Ayrshire in southwest Scotland.

``I will lose my job and as a family we will lose our home. This is about prejudice and ignorance of a country way of life and has nothing to do with animal welfare.''

Among the speakers at the rally was Liberal Democrat lawmaker Mike Rumbles, a member of the Scottish Parliament's Rural Development Committee, who called for compensation to those affected by the proposed hunting ban.

``I believe strongly that there is a moral duty on the Scottish Parliament to provide compensation for all those people whose livelihoods will be ruined by this Bill,'' he said.

Banning hunting has been an emotional issue in England and Wales as well, where the House of Commons has voted for a ban but has been blocked so far by the House of Lords.