No action will be taken against a Warwickshire hunt despite video footage being released of a fox being killed by its hounds.
Warwickshire Police said there was ‘not enough evidence’ to prosecute members of the Atherstone Hunt over accusations the fox had been illegally killed – despite the video, witness statements and the hunt itself admitting that it killed the fox.
The video footage was taken by West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs and shows members of the Atherstone Hunt on horseback as a pack of about 20 dogs chase down the animal in a field.
As the hounds attack the fox, a member of the hunt reaches down and pulls the lifeless body of the animal from underneath the pack and slings the carcass over the back of a colleague’s horse.
The group then rides away towards colleagues in the distance with the limp body of the fox clearly visible.
But despite the footage, a spokesman for Warwickshire Police said: “Following an investigation by Warwickshire Police, the decision has been made that there is insufficient evidence to support a realistic prospect of a conviction in relation to any hunting offences connected to the Atherstone Hunt in Warwickshire.
“Warwickshire Police thoroughly investigate all reports of wildlife crime, we have specialist wildlife crime officers who investigate rural crime and work very closely with a range of partners to raise awareness.
“Our campaign ‘Rural Matters’ seeks support from the public to help put an end to wildlife crime and to report suspicious activity, either by calling 101 (999 in an emergency or if a crime is in process).”
The footage was shot in November 2015 and the hunt was on land which forms part of Fields Farm, in Grendon, near Atherstone.
Since 2005 it has been illegal to hunt foxes with dogs.
The maximum penalty is a £5,000 fine while police can also confiscate and destroy equipment and dogs used in hunting.
Individuals who refuse to comply with confiscation orders or fines issued could face further punishment, including a prison sentence.
A statement released by Atherstone Hunt at the time of the incident read: “Unfortunately while riding across an open field between trails, what we strongly suspect was an injured fox appeared in front of the Hunt within yards of the hounds who very quickly dispatched it.
“The incident was immediately reported to Warwickshire Police.”