Foxes filmed being kept in captivity ‘to be used in illegal hunts’

16 cubs were stored in a shed fitted out to mimic a fox earth; there were no vixens or adult foxes, suggesting the cubs were forcibly removed from their natural habitat

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The Independent Online

Undercover filming has revealed 16 foxes being kept in captivity in order to be hunted illegally, according to the League Against Cruel Sports.

The animal charity's investigation found 16 fox cubs, some as young as three months, being held in a dark shed near Malton in North Yorkshire.

The League found that the foxes were being fed dead chickens and provided with dirty water in bowls. The charity claims that they were forcibly removed from their original habitat because of the lack of vixens and adult foxes.

On 31 May, North Yorkshire Police raided the barns, removed the foxes and arrested the employee seen feeding the foxes. 15 of the foxes are being kept in a secret location, while one died shortly after being rescued.

"This blows apart the argument that hunting is 'wildlife management'," said Dr Toni Shephard, the head of policy and research for the animal charity.

"Why would people working for a hunt be keeping young foxes? The answer is simple but terrible – they capture foxes so there is always a ready supply of animals to be chased by the hunt. Put bluntly, these foxes were kidnapped for cruelty.

 “The intelligence we have received and testimony from people who have been involved in hunts all show that raising foxes to be hunted was, and still is, a common practice among hunts."

The local hunt, the Middleton Hunt directed the BBC to the Countryside Alliance, which said the barn was not owned by the Hunt.

In a statement, the Middleton Hunt said it had "assisted the police with their inquiries, and is confident that no-one employed by or associated with the hunt has committed any offence.

The hunt would take any claim to the contrary extremely seriously."

The local Conservative MP, Kevin Hollinrake, told the BBC, ""We don't know exactly what has happened, but I have never heard of this kind of incident before, so we need to find out what has happened. Actions like this would not be supported by the hunting community."

The charity said that their investigations have implicated over 20 hunts in capturing foxes in the last 15 months. Fox hunting was banned in 2004.