A teenaged boy and his mum were left distraught after discovering the mutilated body of a fox in a field used by the local hunt.

Two hounds from the Southdown & Eridge Hunt were spotted in the field by Kelly Byrne, 42, and her 16-year-old son last Monday [March 11] near St Margaret of Antioch Church in Isfield, East Sussex, shortly before they found the fox.

Its body was still warm.

Investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports say video and photos of the fox taken at the scene are consistent with it being attacked by a pair of the hunt’s hounds.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

Fox hunting, which was banned 14 years ago, is a cruel and barbaric pastime which should be consigned to the history books.

“It’s sickening that it is still continuing in the East Sussex countryside and we would urge the police to take action against the Southdown & Eridge Hunt.”

Kelly and her son, of Ringmer in East Sussex, said they found the fox just five minutes after two hounds from the hunt left the field.

She said she then saw up to 20 hounds, people on horseback wearing red coats and heard the hunt blowing a horn nearby. She contacted the local police who confirmed the identity of the hunt.

Kelly Byrne said:

“I was honestly devastated by what we found. My son and I hugged and cried.

“I had gone out into the countryside for a nice walk on a gorgeous sunny day only to stumble upon this hunt killing a fox – it’s just brutal and wrong.”

Roger Swain, a League investigator, said:

“The injuries are consistent with those that a small number of hounds would inflict on a fox. Hounds don’t kill by a swift bite to the neck as claimed by hunters. They’ll go for the rear end as the first part of the body they can reach and then go for the soft underbelly.”

“The whole pack would have torn apart the corpse completely. That this was just a couple of hounds would probably extend the suffering of the fox as the death would not be quick.”

Chris Luffingham said:

“We are calling for the hunting ban to be strengthened with the introduction of prison sentences for those caught illegally hunting. We need a proper deterrent to stop the barbaric activities of the hunts and we also need to close down loop holes that allow hunts to get round the law.”

The Southdown & Eridge Hunt has been at the centre of controversy in recent years following calls for its Boxing Day Hunt meet in Lewes to be banned after violence by hunt supporters.

Kelly reported the matter to the League against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch service.

Any suspected illegal hunting activity can be reported to the service at www.league.org.uk/animal-crimewatch

Alternatively, phone in confidence on 01483 361 108 or email on [email protected]

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).