Police are launching an investigation into claims that the Fernie Hunt’s hounds illegally chased a fox through a village near Lutterworth at the weekend.
At least one person alerted officers that the Great Bowden-based hunt’s dogs pursued the fox through the middle of Peatling Magna, near Lutterworth, last Saturday afternoon (January 8).
An eye-witness said she and her husband saw the hounds chasing the animal out of a field and into the village as villagers looked on.
The woman, from Countesthorpe, said the dogs hared after the fox across the pub car park on Main Street in Peatling Magna.
The 53-year-old woman, who asked not to be named, said the couple were forced to stop their car because the hunt’s horses were blocking the road.
The fox sped through Peatling Magna towards nearby Countesthorpe before disappearing into the distance amid a heavy rainstorm, she said.
The woman said she was left so upset by the drama that she cried all the way home.
It’s not known if the fleeing animal managed to escape or was killed.
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman told the Harborough Mail today: “Officers received an allegation of illegal hunting in Peatling Magna on Saturday afternoon (8 January).
“The report has been logged and enquiries are now ongoing into the incident.”
This afternoon Chris Parker, a Joint Master with the Fernie Hunt, told the Mail: “There was a horrendous storm and a few of our hounds became disorientated.
“It was an absolute deluge that lasted for about 10-15 minutes.
“The dogs ran off into the village but we soon got them back again.”
He declined to answer more questions, saying that the hunt was issuing a brief statement on the controversial hunting incident.
The statement reads: “While conducting hunting activities within the law on Saturday on farmland within the general vicinity of Peatling Magna, we became aware that some hounds had become disorientated during a torrential cloudburst and got detached from the main group.
“They were safely retrieved immediately.”
Legislation passed in 2004 under Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government bans foxhunting with dogs but allows drag hunting, where hounds are trained to follow an artificial scent.