Police probe online seminars amid fears foxes are being hunted and killed

Police are probing online seminars held by hunt groups amid fears foxes are being hunted and killed.

Officers are studying the online meetings held by hunting’s governing body The Hunting Office.

Anti-hunt campaigners allege the footage, said to have been recorded during meetings this summer, implied hunters could be trying to hide the hunting and killing of foxes.

The Hunting Office has denied any wrongdoing and claims comments have been quoted out of context.

The National Police Chief Council Lead for Fox Hunting, Detective Chief Constable Paul Netherton said: “Police are… examining video content from two webinars on the theme of hunting.

“We are working in conjunction with the CPS to see if any criminal offences have been committed.

“As these events were online and there are no specific geographical areas for one force to investigate, Devon and Cornwall Police are leading the investigation on behalf of all UK forces.”

The Hunting Office said it could not comment on an active investigation.

It had previously told ITV News that the seminars “dealt with the operation and promotion of legal trail hunting and managing animal rights activism” and that comments highlighted by activists had been taken out of context.

Hunting live foxes with hounds was banned in Britain 15 years ago.

However trail hunting – laying a scent trail for hounds accompanied by riders to follow – is still allowed.

If hounds following a pre-laid scent trail accidentally pick up the smell of a real fox, this is also not illegal.

But animal rights activists believe that legal exemptions such as trail-laying offer little protection to foxes and make illegal acts difficult to prove.