Kimblewick Hunt The fox runs in front of a rider as it’s chased

Police are investigating the killing of a fox on private land by a hunt, two of whose members were last year convicted of animal cruelty.

CCTV caught hounds chasing the wild animal on a private industrial estate in Buckinghamshire, and the huntsman fed the carcass to the hounds.

The death was reported to Thames Valley Police, as hunt supporters and opponents disagreed over whether it was deliberate or accidental.

Hunting foxes with dogs has been illegal since 2005, but hunts say they stay within the law by following an artificial scent trail.

The hounds were captured by three cameras chasing the fox before killing it. The video shows a huntsman retrieving the body and later giving it to the hounds to devour.

Kimblewick Hunt kill fox in farm yard

Landowner Linda Kemp said: “I was heartbroken. I felt violated that they came onto my farm and did this and I don’t know why people have the right to come and rip foxes to pieces on my land.”

The Kimblewick Hunt said the fox was killed by accident when the hounds left a previously laid trail.

But Ms Kemp’s husband, Roger, said: “Nobody called the hounds off. If anything it was the opposite – they were egging them on.”

The Kimblewick Hunt told ITV its riders stopped the hounds as soon as they realised they were not following the trail, and that they removed the hounds and carcass as quickly as possible.

Penny Little, of the Protect Our Wild Animals group, which helped the Kemps deal with the fallout of the episode, said the fox’s entrails were left on the ground, and Mr and Mrs Kemp “had the distressing experience of having to pick this up”.

It highlighted why “a radical strengthening of the Hunting Act is urgently needed”, she said.

A police spokesman said: “Thames Valley Police is investigating the incident and would appeal to anyone else with information to contact the force by visiting our website or by calling 101, quoting investigation reference number 43200420887.”

Detectives last month launched an investigation into meetings by hunt masters where they discussed creating “smokescreens” and avoiding being accused of illegal activity.

It prompted some of the UK’s biggest landowners, including Forestry England, the National Trust and United Utilities, to suspend trail-hunting on their land.

Last year two members of the Kimblewick Hunt were given suspended sentences for causing unnecessary suffering to a fox after releasing it into the path of a hunt.

Ian Parkinson, 65, and Mark Vincent, 53, were convicted after covert footage recorded by the Hunt Saboteurs Association showed one man using drainage rods to move the animal, and the other pulling it out by its tail.

A pack of hounds involved in the hunt arrived in the woodland moments later. The pair were ordered to conduct 120 hours of unpaid work and each pay £960 in costs.

Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire Hunt Sabs called on Thames Valley Police to conduct “a robust and fair investigation into the killing of a fox by the Kimblewick” on 12 December.

The Independent has asked the Kimblewick Hunt to comment.

In 2018, the Kimblewick Hunt put down almost 100 foxhounds after an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis swept through their kennels.

Also on Boxing Day, hounds were filmed running on a railway line in Worcestershire, and a hunting horn sounded in the distance.

The Independent has seen footage of several hounds that have picked up a scent running on tracks.

In the past, hounds have been killed by trains on railways after being drawn there by scents.

Foxes are reluctant to leave their natural territory for unfamiliar ground, often using man-made barriers such as railways as a boundary, so during a pursuit may run along such a line unwilling to stray into unknown territory which they would sense was a greater danger.

The Hunting Office warned hunts on Boxing Day that “hunts should not host a public ‘meet’ before the day’s activities, as we do not want to draw in large crowds of spectators in a way that is often seen over Christmas”.

It was thought that tier 4 restrictions curbed many hunts in those areas, but that large numbers of hunts in tiers 2 and 3 went ahead on Boxing Day.  

Hunt Details: Kimblewick Hunt

Source: Independent