A fox being chased by the Dulverton Farmers Foxhounds has been filmed escaping into a wildlife sanctuary which was donated by Sir Paul McCartney to the League Against Cruel Sports.

The incident took place in March 2020 at St John’s Wood, a nature reserve which was set up thanks to the donation of land by the former Beatle, to protect animals such as foxes and deer from being hunted in West Somerset.

The League’s head of conservation and education Paul Tillsley witnessed and filmed the Dulverton Farmers Foxhounds hunting across fields adjacent to St John’s Woods, where the League owns the sporting rights which prevents hunts from operating.

He said:

“When I arrived, I found the whole pack of hounds rampaging across Hemingway fields, where the League owns the sporting rights. This hunt had already been sent a warning-off letter from the League’s solicitor earlier in the season following a similar incident. The League will be taking further action.

“This hunt has repeatedly demonstrated their inability to stay within the law. This is exactly why the Hunting Act needs to be strengthened.”

Paul asked terrier men attached to the hunt to stop hunting and call off their hounds. The hounds, which were in full cry indicating they were on the scent of an animal, were called off while another League employee, conservation and education officer Graham Floyd, filmed their quarry escaping into the wildlife sanctuary next door.

The presence of terrier men, who move around on quadbikes with a terrier in a box, nullifies the idea that the hunt was trail hunting, an excuse often used by hunts to avoid media scrutiny. The role of terrier men is to flush out foxes that have fled underground, an activity that is completely inconsistent with following a ‘trail’.

The incident follows on from another case in the West Country earlier this year where the Four Burrow Hunt ran amok on two other wildlife sanctuaries.

The fox hunting ban came into force in February 2005, but the League receives and obtains hundreds of reports each year of hunts chasing foxes.