TENSIONS between anti-hunt protesters and hunt supporters have escalated following claims a fox was killed by hounds in Paddock Wood countryside at the weekend.
Protesters, keen to see if groups have been flouting the 2004 ban, said they were prevented from following riders as they entered fields close to Pike Fish Lane.
Prominent anti-hunting campaigner Dave Wetton then claimed hounds had been used to kill a fox during the meet on Saturday, organised from the nearby Upper Fowle Hall Farm.
He said: “The leading redcoats blocked the road to delay us monitors from following the hounds into the fields.”
Mr Wetton and other monitors from the Hunt Saboteurs Association were attempting to observe a joint meet of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hunt and the Ashford Valley Hunt.
As the horses and hounds headed towards fields near Collier Street he claimed hounds were heard “baying” at around 1.30pm.
“We believe they had found a fox, or at least a strong scent of one. The baying went on for less than a minute before stopping,” he said.
“Scents can suddenly disappear but we think they caught this one because the huntsman gave the standard single drawn-out blast on the horn, which signifies a kill.”
Kent Police confirmed they were looking into allegations over dangerous driving and road blocking but said there was insufficient evidence to investigate claims a fox had been killed by hounds. Both hunts refused to comment.
Pressure to lift the ban on hunting with dogs has increased in recent months with agriculture minister Jim Paice favouring a change in the law.
Pro-hunting campaigners the Countryside Alliance said the term “monitor” was misleading and claimed activists often wearing hoodies and black jumpers were a cause of growing anxiety.
Spokesman Michelle Nudds said: “They often trespass and this is not acceptable to farmers. If it is not a public right of way they do not have permission to go there.
“This is why the tensions arise.”
She added: “The hunts are looking to hunt within the law and they use a number of runners who are very visible.”
Mr Wetton accused the hunt parties of using fox scent trails which he claimed endangered foxes near the hunt.