Siena, March 28 - Animal rights groups in Italy applauded a delay announced by Tuscan authorities on Thursday of a law allowing hunters to kill foxes in their lairs that was slated to begin on April 1. The hunting season is now scheduled to begin May 1. Animal rights group Lav said on Thursday that "even though this is a positive outcome, it is not enough. There needs to be a complete ban on the killing of foxes in their dens, especially while they are nursing cubs". An urgent appeal was sent out on Tuesday, a week before a the law was to go into effect, calling on authorities in the province of Siena to block a so-called hunting initiative effective until July 31 allowing foxes and their cubs to be killed directly in their dens. The province called for the hunt, maintaining that the animals are lowering the numbers of rabbits, hares and pheasant in the area. Animal rights groups say that the activity is an 'extermination', not a hunt since dogs are used to kill the animals while they are underground in their homes. "There is no justifiable reason for using hunting dogs to slaughter fox cubs in their lairs...it is a cruel method," Anna Maria Betti from the Italian Federation for Animal and Environmental Rights said. "We now have a month's time to work towards the complete annulment of this useless and damaging practice," environment association WWF said in a statement.