One hound was killed when a pack chasing a fox during a hunt strayed on to a railway line into the path of an express train.
The incident was the third in the past three weeks in Oxfordshire involving hounds on roads or Rail lines.
Infuriated anti-hunt protesters criticised huntsmen after the hound died when it was struck near the Brill tunnel by a train travelling from London Marylebone to Banbury yesterday.
Eye-witnesses saw several hounds from the Bicester Hunt with Whaddon Chase run on to the Chiltern line. Judy Tolman, of Bernwode Plants, which is next to the track, said she saw one of the hounds killed
She added: “We heard a train come along and lots of thuds. There was a lot of blood on the line. It was pretty chaotic. After the train stopped there were still about eight dogs bounding up and down the line. Some of the huntmasters were trying to catch them.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later. They went in the nature reserve about ten minutes before and they aren’t allowed to go in there. There are wire fences but they don’t seem to hold them back once they have got the scent of a fox.” Aisling Gavin, of train operators Chiltern Railways, said the train driver had reported some hounds on the line but was unsure if any had been hit or killed.
She said: “He stopped and checked the train but there were only superficial marks. He could see no bodies so he carried on. The train was only delayed by about three minutes.”
The incident follows an accident on Saturday when a hound from the Bicester Hunt was hit by two cars on the Bicester to Aylesbury road, near Kingswood.
That came just weeks after hounds from the Old Berkshire Hunt strayed on to the A34, halting traffic. In a statement, the Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt said: “Hounds ran to woodland near the railway line and were immediately called back by the huntsman.
“Regrettably, one hound, called Coral, was on the railway line and was killed by a passing train.”
Alison Hawes, of The Countryside Alliance, speaking on behalf of the Bicester Hunt, said: “The hunt have fenced that area themselves. Whether the dogs managed to get through or not I don’t know.”
John Richards, spokesman for the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef) union, said the problem of hunts straying on to railway lines was not a new one.
He said: “We have been talking to the various hunts, the League Against Cruel Sports, the transport police and Railtrack to see how this problem can be resolved.”
In a separate incident, members of the same hunt were filmed riding through Rushbeds Wood reserve near Brill.
Source : Oxford Mail