Police probe fox death near Axminster

Land owner talks of her “nightmare” attempt to save frightened animal from pack of hounds.

AN animal lover has spoken of her “nightmare” battle to prevent a fox from being torn apart by hounds in a field near Axminster.

Priscilla Lynch, 52, and a young passer-by, fought in vain to save the wounded animal from a pack of dogs after it sought refuge on land she owns at Shute.

Police are investigating the incident which is alleged to have happened at just after 4pm on Boxing Day.

Members of the Axe Vale Hunt have admitted being in the area at the time.

A spokeswoman for the Hunt said they had been legally hunting there, using a false scent trail as permitted under the law.

But she said it could happen that one of the foxes living in the area might jump out and become an unintentional target for the hounds.

Most Read

“It can happen,” she said.

Miss Lynch said she was taking a walk in her field with her father, Patrick, aged 84, and her three dogs.

She told The Herald: ”Dusk was approaching and I could hear horsemen on the road and the sounds of a hunting horn. I went to put our dogs in the car and then three hounds came in through the gate, then the fox came through the hedge and before I knew it the whole pack was on it. “I started to scream and shout and tried to get them off and then a young man came through the hedge and waded in amongst the hounds and fought them off before crouching over the frightened animal to save it from being ripped to pieces. But it was fatally wounded and died 20 minutes later.

“I told the people on horseback and their followers to clear off and we wrapped the fox up and hid it so they couldn’t cut the head and tail off for trophies.”

Miss Lynch, who lives in Sidmouth, said she was still shocked by the incident which she described as “a nightmare”.

She added: “I would love to find and thank the man who appeared from nowhere and helped me to protect the fox – he was hero.

Everything happened so fast I didn’t even have a chance to find out his name.”

A spokesman for the advisory group Hounds Off, which supports people who suffer from hunt trespass, said that they were aware of what happened and working with Miss Lynch to ensure that it is not repeated in the future.

Robbie Marshland, The UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said: “I am shocked to hear of yet another hunt that has let their dogs run amok and kill a fox. It’s important that the police investigate this case thoroughly as no one should be above the law.

“This horrific incident was clearly distressing for those who witnessed it and our sympathies go out to them.”

Miss Lynch said police told her they would look into the incident and the Hunt might get “a ticking off”.

Police at Seaton are investigating the allegations. People with information should call them on 101 quoting reference KN/11/537.