AN ANIMAL rights group has released footage of 16 fox cubs being kept in an outbuilding which it claims were being illegally reared for hunting.

The League Against Cruel Sports took covert video evidence as part of an investigation in May of the young foxes being held in outbuildings on land near Birdsall Estates, near Malton, North Yorkshire.

The video apparently shows a man visiting the foxes to feed them dead chickens, and the league said there were no vixens or adults foxes in the building, which - they said - suggested the cubs had been removed from their earths.

A solicitor representing Middleton Foxhounds Hunt, which is based close to where the foxes were discovered, told The Northern Echo that the outbuildings are not owned by the hunt or leased by them.

He stressed that there is no link between the hunt and the cubs.

Dr Toni Shephard, head of policy and research for the League Against Cruel Sports, said it had alerted North Yorkshire Police who removed the foxes and made an arrest.

The cubs, one of which died shortly after the rescue, are being kept at a secret location.

She said: “This blows apart the argument that hunting is ‘wildlife management’.

“Why would people be keeping young foxes? The answer is simple but terrible – they capture foxes so there is always a ready supply of animals to be chased.

“Put bluntly, these foxes were kidnapped for cruelty.

“Raising foxes to be hunted was, and still is, a common practice.”

Clifford Pellow, a kennelman and huntsman for 23 years and now retired, said: “I’ve worked with many hunts across the country and seen foxes kept in milk churns, cages and sheds and encouraged to breed in artificial earths so there’s a ready supply to be hunted.

“I’ve even seen a fox deliberately strung up in a tree to send the hounds into a frenzy, so it’s no surprise to me this cruelty carries on.”

“Though hunts insist they are there to provide a wildlife control service, the fact they break the Master of Foxhounds Association rules over and over again shows that this just isn’t the case.”

North Yorkshire Police is still appealing for witnesses and information after the discovery on Sunday, May 31 – in particular how the foxes got in to the outbuildings, why they were there, and who put them there.

A man has been arrested in connection with this incident, and has been released on police bail as the investigation continues.

Anyone with information can contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Jeremy Walmsley, or email

Information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111, quoting North Yorkshire Police reference number 12150090111.