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Last Updated: Friday, 30 December 2005, 14:29 GMT
Hunt denies claim over 'fox kill'
A family have accused a South West hunt of breaking the law by allowing a pack of hounds to kill a fox.

Paula McAlindon and Michael Mosforth claim huntsmen pursued a fox and let the pack rip it to pieces on their land near Moretonhampstead on Christmas Eve.

The South Devon Hunt said it was acting within the law and there was no kill.

Devon and Cornwall Police said that the incident reported was under investigation. Hunting foxes with dogs was made illegal in February.

I just screamed and saw the life ripped out of it
Paula McAlindon

Ms McAlindon and Mr Mosforth said the animal was killed on their land at North Bovey.

Ms McAlindon said: "I ran up the lane and down the side of some sheds and the hounds were just straight on it.

"I just screamed and saw the life ripped out of it."

Mr Mosforth said that he also witnessed the animal's death when he arrived moments after his sister screamed.

He said: "Paula started screaming and I came down and saw the hounds had grabbed hold of the fox and were running round and round.

"There must have been six or seven hounds at the time and they just ripped it apart. I just couldn't believe it."

The couple said a small piece of fur and flesh about 2ins (5cm) square was all that remained of the fox. It will be analysed by vets and police.

We are unaware of any illegal activities
Ian Pearse, South Devon Hunt
Hunting foxes with dogs was made illegal under the Hunting Act, although hounds can be used to follow a scent and to flush out a fox.

The master of the South Devon Hunt denied its members broke the law and said there was no kill during any of its Christmas Eve activities.

Ian Pearse said: "We were flushing with a pack of hounds to a bird of prey and trail hunting.

"We are unaware of any illegal activities happening within the South Devon Hunt on Christmas Eve."

Birds of prey are allowed to be used to kill foxes lawfully. The fox can then be killed by a bird of prey or shot - if only two dogs are involved.


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