'Abhorrent' hunting footage 'showing animal released into pack of hounds' investigated by police

A group of men can be seen appearing to lower a sack with an animal inside into the pack of hounds

Police are investigating after “unacceptable” footage emerged appearing to show members of a hunt releasing a wild animal directly to a pack of hounds and letting them chase it.

The footage, given exclusively to ITV News, was captured by a member of the public earlier this year in Somerset and has been “unequivocally condemned” by those that run the sport of hunting.

Video like this is believed to be extremely rare. It's believed to show a group of men from the Seavington Hunt and an excited pack of fox hounds surrounding a quad bike.

A heavily weighted bag is lifted from a box on the quad bike. The hounds are held back while the bag is opened. The hounds close in as the bag is held up and turned upside down. They are trained to follow fox scent.

The animal is let out of the bag in amongst the hounds and the chase begins.

The footage does not show clearly what animal was in the bag but it’s widely thought to be a fox. It’s not known how the chase ended and whether or not the animal survived.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed to ITV News that “a man in his 20s has attended a voluntary police interview in connection with a report made to police concerning alleged illegal hunting".

The Hunt Saboteur Association said: “This is yet another example of how hunts behave when they think they're not being watched. Such actions are abhorrent, they're even unpopular with some in the hunting community.

"The only way hunting associations will be able to maintain any semblance of a reputation is by banning these hunts and forcing them to disband."

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The British Hound Sports Association said: “In March the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) was made aware of a serious incident involving the Seavington Hunt.

"The MFHA unequivocally condemned this behaviour which was wholly unacceptable and would not be tolerated by any of the hunting associations. The MFHA committee immediately suspended the hunt and revoked the membership of its Master. Following a police interview the huntsman left the employment of the hunt.

"The hunt remains suspended from the British Hound Sports Association, the new governing body for hunting with hounds, until a full enquiry is carried out by the Hound Sports Regulatory Authority, the new regulatory body that is responsible for disciplinary matters. This will take place following the conclusion of the legal process."

The Seavington Hunt has been approached by ITV News for comment but has not yet responded.