AN animal rights group has criticised a Cotswolds hunt, and is asking a council to ban it from hunting in the area.

Wychavon District Council is facing calls to end permission for Boxing Day hunt meets in Broadway after the League Against Cruel Sports raised concerns about public safety with claims the North Cotswold Hunt is still chasing and killing wildlife.

The League has written to Cllr Bradley Thomas, leader of Wychavon Council, following the hunt's meeting in Broadway on Boxing Day.

In its letter, the league claims five foxes were chased to exhaustion across the Cotswold countryside during the hunt’s meets this season, and two of the animals were reportedly torn apart by the hunt’s dogs, with one taking refuge in a badger sett where it was dug out by terrier men.

Chris Luffingham, director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, claimed: “Five foxes have been chased and two killed by hounds under the control of the North Cotswolds Hunt, which is permitted by Wychavon Council to hold one of its most prestigious meets in Broadway.

“These brutal incidents, in which wild animals have lost their lives after being torn apart by a pack of dogs, not only reflects on the hunt itself – but anybody who allows them to continue operating.”

The group also believes large groups of hunt riders and hounds meeting creates a health and safety hazard.

The league claims during hunt meets, highways are obstructed and passers-by, including families with young children, are forced into narrow spaces.

Mr Luffingham added: “With 85 per cent of the public opposing fox hunting, there is clear support for Wychavon to follow these examples and instead allow only cruelty-free entertainment in Broadway.”

A spokesman from the North Cotswold Hunt said: “The Boxing Day meets are supported by many thousands of people. This is a very traditional Boxing Day event. There have not to our knowledge been any health and safety accidents in living memory.” Cllr Thomas said: “The hunt meetings clearly still polarise opinion. Any alleged illegal activity surrounding them should be referred to the police and any concerns over the highway should be referred to Worcestershire County Council.”