CAMPAIGNERS claim they have caught hunt members on camera hauling a fox out of a trap for their hounds to chase.

Footage released by animal rights group Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) alleges to show 'illegal' practice during the Kimblewick Hunt in South Oxfordshire, although the Countryside Alliance said all hunts 'should be operating within the law'.

The video was passed to the HSA and claims to show the New Year's Day hunt at Moreton, between Milton Common and Thame, and appears to have been filmed secretly by a camera on the forest floor.

It is said to show a fox being held captive, trapped in pipes underground, before 'terriermen' pull it free ready for hounds to follow. 

One man can be seen assembling a rod from pipes, which the association said was used to push the fox into position. 

Another man then appears to forcibly drag the fox out of the hole by its hind legs as the animal tries to squirm away, before letting it run loose. 

Minutes later a pack of hounds run past, sniffing at the ground. 

The original video on Vimeo has been viewed thousands of times since it was posted yesterday. 

Legislation introduced in 2004 made it illegal to hunt and kill a fox and other wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales.

The ban came after a fierce campaign from animal welfare activists. 

The tradition continues but most now instead operate 'trail hunting', in which hounds chase artificially-laid animal scents such as fox urine rather than real animals, such as at Oxfordshire's Heythrop Hunt.

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HSA campaigns against illegal fox hunting, and its website states hunt groups across the country are 'arrogantly continuing their slaughter in the name of sport'.  

Lee Moon, a spokesman for the group, said: "Incidents like this prove time and again that hunts throughout the UK are still totally focused on hunting and killing live animals. 

"Even with this concrete proof of illegal hunting, on one of the most high profile days in the hunting calendar, we expect the MFHA [the Masters of Foxhounds Association, the governing body for registered hunts] to do nothing.

"Unless they immediately suspend the Kimblewick, it’s an admission that this kind of activity is still commonplace amongst their member hunts and considered totally acceptable in the hunting community.

"It beggars belief that hunts are still willing to maraud across the countryside putting both their hounds and other animals at risk of infection."

The Oxford Mail contacted the hunt's secretary asking for a response to the allegations.

Responding on behalf of the hunt, a spokesperson from the Countryside Alliance said: "All hunts should be operating within the law.

"There are exemptions to the Hunting Act and other legal options, which can be used to cull foxes, and most hunts still offer a fox control service.

"However unjustified the Hunting Act is, it should be adhered to."

A spokesperson for the MFHA added: “The Masters of Foxhounds Association has strict disciplinary procedures and will fully investigate any credible allegation relating to Masters, hunt employees or hunts.

"It cannot, however, investigate criminal allegations or take any action that would interfere with or impede a possible police investigation."

Kimblewick Hunt dates back to 2002 and sees members hunt in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire.