A hunting hound was killed when it was struck by a passenger train after straying on to a railway line.
The dog was out trail hunting with riders from the Rutland-based Cottesmore Hunt on Saturday when it got on to the track at Wyfordby, near Melton Mowbray.
It is thought the hound, a four-year-old foxhound called Hazard, became separated from the other dogs at about 11.45am and was hit by the Birmingham to Stansted airport train.
Cottesmore Hunt secretary Clare Bell was riding nearby at the time, as part of a trail hunt.
She said: “This was a freak accident. It was extremely tragic.
“It looks as though he got through a hole in a barbed wire fence and strayed on to the track.
“We think he got a little left behind the other hounds and was sniffing about as dogs do.
“The train stopped and we were able to retrieve the body and take it back to be buried at the kennels, in Ashwell.
“We are all devastated.
“I have been hunting for nearly 10 years and I have never experienced anything like this.
“We go (hunting) where we are invited by farmers and sometimes that is near railway lines.
“We take every precaution to prevent the hounds going where they should not, but sometimes it does happen.”
A spokesman for the kennels said he was saddened by Hazard’s death.
He said: “It’s unfortunate but the hounds don’t notice and carry on as normal.”
Network Rail spokesman Russell Spink: “It does appear one of the hounds was struck by a train and killed.
“While in urban areas, most railway lines are secured by fences. In the countryside, there are points where it is possible for animals to wander on to the tracks. We have 20,000km of track and we cannot fence it all off.
“A lot of animals are struck by trains but it is mainly those that live in the wild like badgers or foxes.
“We advise anyone in the countryside who is out with a dog to be aware of the dangers posed by railways.
“It is very rare to have an incident involving hunting hounds.”
A British Transport Police spokesman urged all dog owners to be aware of the dangers posed by trains.
He said: “This reinforces the message that the railway is a dangerous place.
“If a dog strays on to the track there is a temptation for the owner to follow but people should stay clear.”
Source : Leicester Mercury