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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 13:44 GMT
Fox killed by hounds during hunt
a huntsman at sunset
No-one has been convicted of fox-hunting since the ban
Police are investigating after a hunt admitted its hounds had killed a fox.

The fox was caught by hounds from the Puckeridge Hunt in Essex who had been following a trail laid by a rider.

Tim Vestey, joint master of the hunt, said the fox's death was an "accident" and explained hounds had been distracted by the scent of the fox.

Police said they were contacted by a woman who saw the hounds chasing the fox in the area between Duddenhoe End and Langley Upper Green.

Mr Vestey said: "Whatever we may think of the hunting laws, we are law-abiding citizens and we very much endeavour to comply with its stipulations."

He said there was only one huntsman with the hounds, trying to stop them from pursuing the fox.

"Unfortunately, as does happen from time to time, a fox came out and the hounds have gone away from the trail and onto the line of the fox. The fox was caught by the hounds and killed. It was an accident," he added.

Hunting illegal

Trail hunting involves a trail-layer riding or running ahead of the hunt dragging a rag soaked in scent.

A spokesman for Essex Police told BBC News: "We are looking into this matter to see if any illegal activity took place."

The law prohibits fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing with dogs in England and Wales.

Under the ban, dogs can still be used to follow a scent but cannot be used to kill a fox.

The Puckeridge Hunt, which dates back to 1725, covers parts of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.

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