A pack of dogs was killed on a train track during a ‘drag hunting’ event, it has been reported.
The alleged hunt took place near the Cowburn Tunnel in the Vale of Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District.
A resident of nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith told the Buxton Advertiser : “The incident involved around ten men, several with guns, on public footpaths.
“The men also had a large number of hunting dogs which did not seem to be under any form of control.
“The ‘hunt’ concluded with dogs being killed after being struck by the Manchester to Sheffield train.”
He added that the train used its horns to warn the hunters, who were on the tracks as well.
Drag hunting is a form of hunting where hounds hunt a scent that has been laid (or ‘dragged’) over a course.
A spokesman for British Transport Police said: “We received a report of dogs being struck by a train at Cowburn Tunnel, Derbyshire shortly before 7pm on Thursday, 25 August.
“Rail staff checked the line but the dogs had been removed from the tracks.”
Derbyshire Police said in a statement: “We are aware of concerns about alleged hunting activities in the Chapel area, which were reported to us on Thursday August 25.
“The investigation is at an early stage and PCSO Pat Findlay-Wilson would like to hear from anyone who has any information that would help his inquiries.”
Eduardo Gonçalves from the League Against Cruel Sports said: “We are surprised to hear the term ‘drag hunting’ used to describe this incident as these sorts of accidents do not happen in drag hunting, where an artificial scent is carefully laid across safe land and those controlling the hounds always know where it has been laid.
“However, these accidents are common in trailhunting in which none of these safeguards are in place, so hunts end up chasing foxes without anybody trying to stop them.
“We suspect this is just another case of a foxhunt, not a drag hunt, using the false alibi of trail hunting to avoid allegations of illegal hunting.
“This horrific incident is not an isolated case in trail hunting and is typical of the disregard that hunts show for their dogs and the public.
“Accidents in the past have involved road traffic collisions, other train accidents and the deaths of other animals, including pet dogs and cats caused by out of control hunt hounds.
“Surely if the hunt were following a trail, no one in their right mind would have laid the scent next to a busy line? And why were the hounds so out of control that such a tragic accident was allowed to take place?
“The sad fact remains, if the hunt’s actions had been different seven dogs would still be alive and its members should be held accountable.”