Campaigners claim fox killed by dogs
A dead fox found on a west of Scotland estate was killed by dogs, animal welfare charities have claimed.
OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports claimed it was attacked by hounds from the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Hunt.
Vets who examined the carcass said its injuries were consistent with a dog attack, although it had also been shot.
Pro-hunting group the Countryside Alliance said the fox had been legally shot after being flushed out by dogs.
Under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 dogs can be used to flush out an animal, but they are not normally allowed to kill it.
Campaigners, however, claim foxes are regularly killed by hounds.
A review, led by senior judge Lord Bonomy, into how the law is working is due to be published shortly.
The charities said the fox was retrieved by hunt saboteurs on 5 November at Harelaw, near Bridge of Weirand, and taken to Hesselhead Wildlife Hospital.
They then arranged for an examination to be carried out by SAC Consulting Veterinary Services.
The report concluded: "Death is likely to be due to a combination of respiratory failure, blood loss and shock and would not have been instant. This will have caused significant unnecessary suffering to the fox."
The animal had also been shot - but the report said the wound was not fatal.
"One metallic fragment recovered from the right front leg. This will not have killed the animal but the associated haemorrhage is consistent with the fox being shot while still alive," the report said.
OneKind Director Harry Huyton said: "Despite a law which supposedly prevents foxes from suffering negative welfare impacts from hunting with hounds, this unprecedented post-mortem of a hunted fox makes it clear that suffering continues.
"The level of trauma experienced by the fox prior to its death and the manner in which it died is completely unacceptable and debunks the myth that foxes killed by packs of hounds are dispatched with a 'quick nip to the back of the neck'."
League Scotland Director Robbie Marsland added: "We look forward to the Scottish government strengthening the law to make sure that no other foxes are killed in this dreadful and repugnant way."
The Countryside Alliance said the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Foxhounds operated under a "strict protocol" in accordance with the law.
A spokesperson said: "In compliance with the law the fox in question had been shot on being flushed from cover by the hounds.
"The Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Foxhounds have an open and ongoing relationship with Police Scotland, one that includes the notification of their activities in advance of hunting days and a facility for direct contact with Police Scotland throughout.
"It is clear that the Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire were acting both legally and responsibly in the control of foxes.
"Wild and unsubstantiated claims from animal rights organisations about suffering are both predictable and ridiculous."
The Scottish government said Lord Bonomy's review of the law on foxhunting would be published shortly.
A spokeswoman said: "We're grateful to those who made a submission to the Rt Hon Lord Bonomy's review.
"Scottish ministers will carefully consider his report and, as previously committed, will consult on any consequent proposals for change to the current arrangements."