Police are looking into another allegation of illegal hunting after a member of the public said he saw Surrey Union Hunt operating near Ockley.
The hunt group has been accused of killing a fox near Peaslake and Ewhurst on December 1, 2018, after Guildford Hunt Saboteurs shared disturbing images of a dead fox last year.
At the time, Surrey Union Hunt said the group operated within the confines of the Hunting Act 2004.
Now a man, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims he saw the group hunting illegally at or near Surrey Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) Candy’s Copse woodland on Wednesday, March 13, at about 3pm.
Surrey Police confirmed: “We are aware that an allegation of illegal hunting has been made and are looking into the matter, however we are yet to determine if there has been any offence. If there is evidence of illegal hunting Surrey Police will conduct an impartial and rigorous investigation to ascertain the full facts.”
SWT says it does not permit hunting of any kind, including trail hunting, on its land.
A spokesman explained: “We were made aware of this activity by a member of the public on March 13 when we explained that we did not permit any hunting to take place on our land and suggested he inform the police, which he did.
“Surrey Wildlife Trust then wrote to the Surrey Union, Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent hunts to follow up on this report and reiterate that we do not permit hunting on our land and reported it to the police. The Surrey Police Wildlife Crime Officer rang to follow up these concerns.”
But a spokesman for Surrey Union Hunt insisted the group were hunting legally, following a pre-laid trail, on private land and clarified it had to pass through Candy’s Copse in order to cross into another area.
The spokesman said: “The Surrey Union Hunt always hunt within the rules of the 2004 Hunting Act, and on this date, as on every day that the hunt meets, were following a pre-laid trail. We will of course assist the police with any enquiries that they might have.
“Members of the hunt were at Candy’s Copse on the bridle paths as allowed, in order to cross into another area. The Surrey Wildlife Trust know this as we have discussed it with them. Sadly we can’t pass on information regarding our landowners as it is their prerogative for that information to remain private information, as I’m sure you understand.”