In Brief

Huntsman suspended after video of fox cubs 'being fed live to hounds'

Animal rights groups believe foxes were being kept to train hounds to kill them

160623-fox.jpg

A professional huntsman has been suspended from a kennels in the West Midlands after a video was passed to the BBC appearing to show fox cubs being thrown to hounds in an apparent bid to train them to kill.

The Hunt Investigation Team, which campaigns against fox hunting, secretly filmed outside the South Herefordshire Hunt kennels using hidden cameras.

In the footage, four live fox cubs are placed in a cage, and later two apparently lifeless cubs are removed and dumped in a bin.

One of the investigators, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC: "When our investigators took those fox cubs out, one of them was disembowelled, one of them had multiple bite wounds. Our feeling is that they were fed live to the hounds."

The Hunt Investigation Team and the League Against Cruel Sports are concerned that foxhounds are being taught to kill through a practice known as "cubbing", says The Times.

"Two men and a woman were arrested and bailed earlier this month, while a paid huntsman has been suspended from South Herefordshire Hunt, which has since closed. Nobody from the organisation would comment on the matter," says the newspaper.

The ban on fox hunting with hounds, introduced in 2005, made it illegal to intentionally pursue foxes with a pack of dogs.

But kills that are proven to be unintentional are not banned. It is claimed by some activists that hunts deliberately engineer situations where foxes are killed.

The Master of Foxhounds Association, which regulates and represents hunts around the country, said it had launched an inquiry "into conduct which suggests breaches of the association's rules" at the South Herefordshire Hunt.

"The hunt has suspended two members of staff and the kennels are currently closed," it said in a statement.

Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "The hounds won't naturally kill foxes so they must be taught to do so and this footage exposes the gruesome training secrets of hunts in the UK."

Tim Bonner, the Countryside Alliance chief executive, said that if the allegations were proven the activities shown had "absolutely no place in hunting".

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