LEDBURY Hunt has strongly denied claims it is deliberately flouting the law by hunting foxes with hounds, after graphic footage was posted on the internet by the Hunt Saboteurs Association.

The footage, now being viewed by the RSPCA, shows a pack of hounds tearing into a fox in a private garden at Eldersfield, Gloucestershire, on November 23 – an incident tht happend after the hunt temporarily lost sight of the pack.

But hunt spokesman, former master Donald Haden said: “There is no evidence that the hounds killed the fox. The probability is, they did.”

However, Mr Haden said the fox appeared to be already dead on the footage, and sometimes hounds may come across a dead fox in a hedgerow, such as one that had been shot previously.

Calling the incident an accident, he said: “There is no evidence of illegal hunting”, and he said it was the hunt itself which first contacted the police, about 15 minutes later.

By law hunts are allowed to follow a pre-set trail but not actively hunt foxes.

Mr Haden said the hounds had been following an artificially laid trail and were out of sight at the time.

When asked if this was acceptable practice, he said: “It is the huntsman’s professional job to keep in touch with the hounds, but in the countryside that is not always possible.

The hounds can scream away in seconds.”

Mr Haden said he “absolutely refuted” claims by the Hunt Saboteurs Association that the Ledbury Hunt was flouting the law on hunting with dogs by deliberately targeting foxes.

Mr Haden said the hunt goes out about 50 times a year and on average only a handful of foxes are killed by the hunt accidentally each year.

Lee Moon, spokesman for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, said: “They are trying to fudge the issue. They are claiming it was an accident, which we do not believe. The actual kill is in the video.

“They are flouting the law, absolutely – the reason being the police does not enforce the act and the act is full of loopholes.”

A Hunt Saboteurs press release states: “Footage of the kill, and from beforehand, is being examined by lawyers from the RSPCA to determine if there are grounds for prosecution under the Hunting Act.”

RSPCA press spokesperson Helen Coen said: “We have been made aware of the footage and are currently looking into it.”

Hounds on trail of fawn

A CONCERNED West Malvern resident was shocked to see a pack of hounds on the trail of a fawn on Tuesday after discovering the animal in his garden.
David Sample, of Lower Road, said a huntsman confirmed they were part of the North Ledbury
Hunt but were trying to get the hounds off the trail of the deer.
Mr Sample raised concerns that the hunt should not have been on the land and described the incident as “distressing, and a situation that should not be allowed.”
The hunt’s joint master, Valerie Allfrey, declined to comment.