'Sickening' video obtained by ITV News 'shows illegal fox-hunt in progress'

This “grisly” event in the countryside was cheered on by those watching, ITV News' Rupert Evelyn reports

Video appearing to show hunt members digging out foxes from a den before letting their fox hounds chase after them has led to outrage across the animal welfare world.

The clip, understood to have been recorded recently, looks to show members of the Avon Vale hunt digging into the den before firstly retrieving a terrier and then picking up a fox, while another fox bolts from underground and the hounds give chase to both the mammals.

This “grisly” event in the countryside was cheered on by those watching who seemed even more excited that two foxes had been found. Witnesses seen on the video include members of the hunt on horseback as well as hunt staff.

One pro-hunting insider told ITV News they were “disgusted’ by what the video shows.The British Hounds Sports Association (BHSA) immediately suspended the hunt from its organisation pending an investigation and has summoned it to BHSA headquarters to explain themselves.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association say the video is “one of the most shocking we can recall”, adding that “When sabs aren't present and they're not hiding behind their smokescreen of trail hunting this is the reality of fox hunting.

"The gleeful sickening laughter when they realise there are two foxes to chase. The only unusual things about this video is that there are two foxes and that it's been made public."

Musician Brian May responds to the video

After seeing the video, musician Brian May, who has previously spoken out against fox hunting, said: "This footage speaks for itself of course, it's so shocking and so disgusting that it can't leave any decent person in any doubt about what trail hunting really means."

Meanwhile naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham said: "To witness this barbarity, this pre-meditated callous cruelty inflicted on a wild animal in the UK countryside in the 21st century is absolutely sickening.

"But this is the brutal face of fox hunting. This is not an isolated incident. We see this week in week out and the hunts have been exposed. They have been exposed for saying that they practice trail hunting -as indeed this hunt proclaimed as well.

"Well, that is not trail hunting. That is fox hunting pure and simple, and it is illegal. And I sincerely hope that all of those who are identifiable in this video are brought to justice.

'This is the brutal face of fox hunting,' Chris Packham said

"This is a case now for the police and for the RSPCA. This insidious vile habit has to be stamped out once and for all."

Such footage of foxes being released directly to hounds is extremely rare but for many of those opposed to the bloodsport it shows what they believe routinely happens when hunts aren’t being watched.

In 2022, ITV News revealed footage of a fox in bag being released to an expectant group of bloodthirsty hounds. Ben Hood pleaded guilty to hunting a “bagged” fox.

Footage appears to show foxes being dug out of their den

This video contains distressing images

In response to the more recent footage, which appears to show hunt members digging out foxes from a den, Wiltshire Police said: "We have received a report of alleged wildlife offences and will be reviewing the evidence that has been presented."

A statement from the BHSA reads: "The British Hound Sports Association (BHSA) was yesterday, Tuesday 7th February, given footage of activities of the Avon Vale Hunt which would appear to contravene the Core Principles of the BHSA, and possibly the law.

"The hunt, and individuals within the hunt, were immediately suspended from all hunting activities. The Hound Sports Regulatory Authority were informed, and the hunt has been asked to appear before a disciplinary panel on Thursday 9th February.

"The BHSA is the governing body for all of the hound associations. It has a remit to preserve, protect and promote the future of hounds and hunts.

"This will be achieved by ensuring strict compliance with, and enforcement of, the law and its own principles. Any breach of these is strongly condemned."

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