POLICE are probing reports of an illegal fox hunt in Inverclyde after a member of the public reported seeing a dog killing one of the animals.
Residents in the Alderbrae Road area of Port Glasgow complained to police after fox hunters were seen on quad bikes and Land Rovers near to a public cycle track.
One man said he saw a fox being killed by a dog, which is illegal.
The man said he did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals but spoke to our sister title the Greenock Telegraph anonymously.
He said: “I heard dogs barking near to the fields at the cycle track and when I arrived a woman was on the track already on the phone to police.
“She said ‘it’s a fox hunt’.
“I ran up the hill and I saw people on quad motorbikes and with Land Rovers and I saw a fox being killed by a dog.
“There were about 15 to 20 people involved – they were riding on the fence.”
The man also claims the group threatened him at the scene.
He said: “Residents are upset about this.
“It wasn’t nice, there were families and children on the cycle track.”
Hunting with hounds was banned in Scotland in 2002 but fox hunting is still allowed as long as the animal is killed ‘humanely’ with a gun.
But the local resident said he never heard any shots being fired.
He said: “It should be done in a controlled way by farmers if foxes are killing their sheep and lambs.”
Councillor Jim MacLeod has hit out at the practice, calling it ‘archaic’.
He told our sister title the Greenock Telegraph: “It is really abhorrent.
“I am really disgusted that this happened near to houses and children in that vicinity.
“I understand the Scottish Government was set to introduce a new bill to close these loopholes in 2019 but this was delayed by the pandemic.”
The land is owned by Ardgowan Estates, who say they did not give approval for a hunt.
Sir Ludovic Shaw-Stewart said: “The land belongs to Ardgowan Estate and although permission was not granted to hunt on estate land it is apparent from discussions with the hunt and police that the hounds strayed onto the land mistakenly.
“Having discussed the situation with the police we don’t believe there has been any criminality.”
But police have confirmed they are investigating the incident.
Sergeant Jason Logsdon said: “Inverclyde Police received a report on Saturday 19 December relating to alleged illegal fox hunting on private land behind Alderbrae Road, Port Glasgow.
“Area commander Chief Inspector Paul Cameron confirmed enquiries were ongoing at this time.”