There is ‘not enough evidence’ to prosecute members of a hunt – despite shocking footage showing a fox being killed by their hounds.
Even though hunt members admitted the fox was killed after the video was released by a hunt saboteur group, the hunt will not face police action.
The graphic clip, filmed at Fields Farm in Grendon, Warwickshire last November, shows a pack of dogs chasing a fox while members of the Atherstone Hunt follow on horseback.
One of the dogs wrestles the fleeing animal to the ground before the rest of the group pounce on the fox.
The hunters, wearing traditional gear, are then confronted by a protester, but turn and ride away.
The hunting ban
It has been illegal to hunt foxes with dogs since 2005.
But anyone caught hunting will get away without a prison sentence.
The maximum penalty is a £5,000 fine, but any dogs used in hunting could be destroyed.
Despite the release of the footage, Warwickshire Police said their investigation has ended without charges being brought.
A spokesman for Warwickshire Police said: ‘Following an investigation, the decision has been made that there is insufficient evidence to support a realistic prospect of a conviction in relation to any hunting offences connected to the Atherstone Hunt in Warwickshire.
‘Warwickshire Police thoroughly investigate all reports of wildlife crime, we have specialist wildlife crime officers who investigate rural crime and work very closely with a range of partners to raise awareness.
‘Our campaign ‘Rural Matters’ seeks support from the public to help put an end to wildlife crime and to report suspicious activity.’
A statement released by Atherstone Hunt last year read: ‘Unfortunately while riding across an open field between trails, what we strongly suspect was an injured fox appeared in front of the Hunt within yards of the hounds who very quickly dispatched it.
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‘The incident was immediately reported to Warwickshire Police.’
At the time, West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs said the group was ‘blatantly hunting’ and the incident was not a ‘one off’.