Cambridgeshire police investigate death of fox during annual hunt
The killing of a fox during a New Year's Day hunt in Cambridgeshire is being investigated by police.
Cambridgeshire Police are examining the circumstances surrounding the death during an event held by the Fitzwilliam Hunt, which is based near Peterborough.
The force said it was alerted to the death when the hunt reached Elton, at about 14:00 GMT.
It is now working to establish if a crime was committed under the 2004 Hunting Act.
Hunting foxes with dogs is illegal and those found guilty can be jailed and fined up to £5,000 for hunting illegally or up to £20,000 for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
However, the killing of foxes is allowed in England and Wales for pest control purposes as long as the fox is shot and a maximum of two dogs are used.
"An investigation has been launched to establish whether the killing was lawful or not, and we have been speaking with a number of independent witnesses, as well as participants of the hunt and the saboteurs," Sgt Dave Walker said.
"We are taking this matter seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation to establish whether a crime has been committed."
The Hunt Saboteurs Association said its members had filmed the hunt and presented its footage to Cambridgeshire Police.
It claims the fox was disembowelled and pronounced dead shortly after the alleged incident close to the River Nene.
Spokesman Lee Moon said: "We look forward to a robust investigation by Cambridgeshire Police."
Mark Randell, director of operations at the League Against Cruel Sports, said the case could be an indication of a wider problem within hunting.
"We don't know the full details of this case, but this is a familiar story and people can make their own minds up as to whether or not it was a coincidence.
"We would like to see the Hunting Act tightened up a bit so that the law can more consistently catch up with people when they break it."
The Fitzwilliam Hunt is thought to be at least 250 years old and hunts two days a week in the main season.
A spokesman said: "The Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt is aware of the press and other interest in an incident alleged to have occurred on 1 January 2016.
"It is not considered appropriate for the hunt to comment further given that Cambridgeshire Police has stated its intention to conduct an investigation."