AN 'OUT of control' hunt has been accused of endangering the lives of motorists after horses and hounds were seen chasing a fox across a busy road.

Hunting with dogs rather than a scent trial has been banned since 2004, but Bonnie Cowdrey said she saw riders from what she believed was the Heythrop Hunt chasing a fox across Charlbury Road near Chipping Norton.

The incident took place at 9.30am last Thursday as she was taking her dogs out. She said there were horses and hounds and 'a dozen' onlookers, and that had it not been for a driver ahead of her flashing his lights in warning, she would have crashed.

The 62-year-old said: "Having slowed down, two horses and riders came charging out of the hedges on the opposite side of the road and proceeded to trot – on the wrong side, toward a blind bend.

"One rider, the outer one, frantically waved me to go past them. Even without the bend I couldn't have gone past as there was a cyclist in front of me."

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Mrs Cowdrey said she then had to stop and put her warning hazard lights on, saying: "In the middle of the road is a prancing horse, cars stopped in the opposite direction, hounds everywhere, and, oh yes, a very beautiful fox running at full pelt across the road in front of me trying to escape murder and mayhem."

Mrs Cowdrey added there were about a dozen onlookers not wearing masks or social distancing. As the road cleared, Mrs Cowdrey had another lucky escape, saying: "With my hazard lights still flashing I go to move forward, past the guy on the bike when a vehicle tries to come from behind me, nearly side swiping me in its rush to get on with the chase. I make an emergency stop."

She said the incident left her shaken and was not the first time the Oxfordshire-based Heythrop Hunt had caused disruption near the town. She added: "If you are pro or anti-hunting, surely a bunch of out of control people looking to kill one fox cannot be worth the fact this could have caused a fatal accident, killing and injuring many people, not least the guy on the bike, horses and hounds. The fox, bless him, may have been the one survivor."

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The Heythrop Hunt was contacted via the Hunting Office, the executive arm of the Governing bodies for Hunting with Hounds, but did not respond. RSPCA head of wildlife Adam Grogan said: "While we have not received any reports about this particular incident, the RSPCA has concerns about trail hunting and the real dangers it poses to wildlife.

"Trail hunting involves products from animals such as foxes, deer and hare being used to lay a trail for hounds to follow. Some believe trail hunting is being used as a smokescreen to get around the law and continue traditional fox hunting, which would be a major concern."

The Government's 'rule of six' includes exemptions for some sporting activities.