Police have launched an investigation after shocking footage emerged appearing to show a fox being savaged to death by a pack of crazed hunt hounds.
Members of the Warwickshire Hunt were recorded by saboteurs during a meet at Arlescote, Warwickshire, last Wednesday.
A pack of around 15 hounds can be seen swarming around the fox and chasing it across a field towards a road in the disturbing video uploaded to Facebook.
Graphic footage shows the fox being torn to pieces in a copse alongside the country road while members of the hunt saboteurs shout: ‘Oh my God.’
Police have launched an investigation after shocking footage emerged appearing to show a fox being savaged to death by a pack of crazed hunt hounds
They then pick up the dead animal and follow the huntsmen as they leave, holding the corpse up to show the riders and telling them ‘This is what you pay for.’
Hunting has been exempt from the government’s ‘rule of six’ coronavirus restrictions before the Government’s circuit breaker lockdown was announced at the weekend.
West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs criticised the decision to reward a ‘small privileged minority’.
A spokesperson said: ‘To put things in perspective, most of us are making difficult sacrifices, worrying about the future, our jobs, our loved ones.
‘Most of us can’t see our family. Some are facing local lockdowns.
Members of the Warwickshire Hunt were recorded by saboteurs during a meet at Arlescote, Warwickshire, last Wednesday. Pictured: The graphic footage of the fox’s mutilation
‘Yet there is a small privileged minority who have received government grants to allow them to have large gatherings of over 70, with no social distancing and no facemasks.
‘This fox stood no chance. It ran towards the road, was turned back by riders near the road and got trapped trying to jump a fence where it was killed and torn apart by the pack of hounds.
‘The huntsman tried to retrieve the body but ran off and jumped back on his horse [when he realised saboteurs were approaching].
The dogs were filmed by West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs tearing the fox’s body apart
‘As if this wasn’t bad enough there were children present who may have witnessed this graphic violence.
‘We would seriously question any parent who takes their child to a fox hunt and where there is a risk of exposing them to such brutal scenes.
‘Who knows what psychological damage this will have caused them.’
Posting the footage on social media, the saboteurs wrote: ‘On Wednesday, October 28 the Warwickshire Hunt met at 8am at Glen Farm, Arlescote, Warwickshire for its final cub hunting meet before the main hunting season starts.
‘The main hunting season due to officially start on the November 1 and the Warwickshire Hunt due to have it’s opening meet on Saturday, October 30.
‘West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs were present and witnessed a fox running from the hunt towards the road.
‘Hounds were seen running after it and then killing it not far from the road. Saboteurs retrieved the body. Warwickshire Police are investigating.’
The members of the hunting group are seen rising their horses through a field as their hounds follow and run ahead
The hunters are also seen riding their horses down a road as their dogs run ahead of them and a car comes the other way
One commenter replied: ‘Amazing they can meet in large groups & we can’t see our daughter in her bloody house, Government needs to get their priorities right!!’
The Hunting Act has banned the hunting of mammals with dogs in England and Wales since 2004.
A Warwickshire Police spokesperson said: ‘We’re aware of an incident in Arlescote on Wednesday and an investigation is currently underway.
‘We appreciate this is an emotive issue and ask anyone with any evidence to please report it directly to us, quoting incident number 71 of 28 October.’
A spokesperson for the Warwickshire Hunt said: ‘The hunt is aware of an incident on the 28th October which was reported to the police and will be investigated through the appropriate channels. The hunt will, of course, assist with any further enquiries into the matter.’
What are the rules for hunting with dogs in the UK? How fox hunters try to avoid run-ins with the law
Hunting with dogs was banned in England & Wales in 2004 (Scotland in 2002) because of the profound suffering it causes to foxes and other hunted animals, such as stags and hare.
The law was not intended to stop foxes being killed, but to stop them being cruelly killed.
Exemptions were included in the law which permit dogs to be used in certain specific circumstances…
Stalking and flushing to guns: Two dogs may be used to flush a fox from cover so it can be shot for the purpose of protecting livestock, game birds or biodiversity. The dogs must be kept under close control and the fox must be shot as soon as it breaks from cover – no further chasing is allowed.
Rescue of an injured mammal: Two dogs may be used to capture a fox if the hunt believes it is injured and the hunting is undertaken to relieve its suffering.
Research and observation: Two dogs are allowed to be used for the purpose of or in connection with the observation or study of a wild mammal.
Flushing to a bird of prey: An unlimited number of dogs can be used to flush a fox from cover to a bird of prey which will catch and kill it.
Recapture of escaped wild mammal: An unlimited number of dogs can be used to capture a fox that has escaped from captivity.
Use of a dog below ground (known as terrier work): One terrier may be used below ground to flush out a fox to be shot for the purpose of protecting game birds being reared for shooting. The terrier men must carry written permission from the landowner.
Fox hunters have long tried to find ways to avoid the law. When the Hunting Act was introduced many hunts quickly took raptors out with them so they could claim to be using the bird of prey exemption.
However, few hunts claim to be using this exemption today. Equally, some hunts went out with just two hounds and claimed to be flushing to guns, but this too quickly stopped.
Today, most fox hunts say they have switched to ‘trail hunting’, where the dogs follow a pre-laid scent trail made using fox urine and does not involve a fox being chased or killed.
Is ‘trail’ hunting still allowed during the coronavirus pandemic?
In September, the Government exemptedgrouse shooting and hunting with guns from laws which prohibited groups of more than six people.
Trail hunting was also included in the exemption.
Government guidelines published as the ‘rule of six’ came into force in England provide an exemption for shooting – including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate licence – as an organised sport that can be done with more than five others.
Labour accused the Government of trying to ‘exempt the bloodsport passions of their big donors’ from the coronavirus restrictions.
It is not clear if trail hunting will still be allowed when the new coronavirus month-long lockdown comes into force on Thursday.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been approached for comment.