THE Cotswold Hunt have been fined £5,000 and several key members have been suspended following Channel 4 footage which seemed to show a fox being found buried alive.

A hunt saboteur from Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch filmed a live fox being removed from an artificial earth at the Miserden Estate, near Stroud, where the hunt were active on that day.

Wildlife rescue experts said the rescued fox was a female, possibly lactating, adding that the bag was ‘sodden’ with urine after it was trapped for many hours and possibly days.

There were concerns that the Cotswold Hunt, whose kennels are based at Ossage Farm near Cheltenham, had been engaged with an illegal hunting practice known as 'fox bagging’.

After the Channel 4 broadcast, The British Hound Sports Association (BHSA) suspended the hunt whilst they carried out an investigation.

A disciplinary hearing was held at the offices of the BHSA on Friday, April 14 where a panel reviewed the film and statements.

The panel found that the evidence revealed serious breaches of the core principles and rules of the BHSA but found that no one involved in the management of the Hunt had prior knowledge of the fox being placed in an artificial earth, or would have condoned such conduct.

They agreed that the hunt, its chairman and joint masters were collectively responsible for a failure to ensure the highest standards of conduct therefore decided to impose sanctions. 

The sanctions included that the chairman and joint masters would be suspended from membership of the BHSA for two years and that the huntsman would receive a written reprimand and a reminder of his responsibilities as a huntsman.

The Cotswold Hunt was also fined £5,000, which had to be paid within 28 days, and must apply to the BHSA for reaccreditation before carrying out further hunting activities.

Additionally, the hunt was banned from carrying out terrier work on hunting days and must ensure appropriate supervision of its followers and supporters, particularly those on quad bikes.

The Standard was unable to contact The Cotswold Hunt for a comment.