Police investigate alleged Boxing Day fox hunting criminal activity in Hadleigh

By Derek Davis

30th Dec 2022 | Local News

Tom Buckle investigated by police after allegedly being involved in 'bolting' fox (Picture contributed)
Tom Buckle investigated by police after allegedly being involved in 'bolting' fox (Picture contributed)

Suffolk police have today confirmed they are looking into alleged criminal activity involving fox -hunting supporters during the Boxing Day event in Hadleigh.

Witnesses claim members of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt used illegal methods to ensure the dogs, followed by the horse riders taking part, would pick up a fox scent and instinctively give chase.

Anna Bye, an anti-hunt monitor from the Hadleigh area, claims three terrier men, including Tom Buckle the son of Hunt Master James Buckle, used quad bikes to go into Coram Street Woods, near Holbecks in Hadleigh to use a practice. known as 'bolting' a fox, which is illegal.

Hunt master James Buckle at Boxing Day meeting (Picture contributed)

Activist Mrs Bye peacefully confronted Tom Buckle at the woods as he stood close to the entrance of a badger's sett when a fox suddenly bolted out of a freshly dug hole.

She immediately offered to cover up the fox's scent so the foxhounds would not 'inadvertently' give chase.

"We found out where the terrier men were and as we thought they would be up to no good we went up to the woods.

"I met Tom Buckle and another guy who works with James Buckle and a couple of others but they would not let us go into the woods.

"I know Tom so we were chatting asking why they would not let us in, and the video was rolling, then a fox popped up out of the hole, literally three feet behind him and ran off into the wood.

"I could not believe it and went to the hole and saw it had been freshly dug."

The freshly dug hole at Coram Wood

Mrs Bye captured the moment on her camera and the incident was reported to the police who attended and are investigating this incident along with two other previous allegations.

Fox hunting was banned by the Hunting Act 2004 in England and Wales, although many hunt groups continue a vision of the tradition by dressing up and use scent trails for their foxhounds to follow with horse and rider galloping behind, often going over large tracts of countryside, with landowners permission, which is legal.

However, anti-fox hunt monitors have aired concerns about hunts employing people to capture foxes ahead of a hunt and either release them ahead of a meet or put them in holes a day before, then dig them out as the hunt is about to start.

"While I knew people did this (bolting) and brought foxes to the woods, we have never caught them before.

"Bolting makes the fox really stressed, the scent is strong so it is quickly picked up."

If caught the fox will be killed by the dogs.

Mrs Bye added: "We have clear evidence that a hole was dug and the fox ran literally from just behind the Hunt Master's son, and we will pass this on to police."

A fox on the run (Library picture)

A police spokesman confirmed an allegation of criminal behaviour had been made and the incident is still being investigated. No arrests have been made as yet.

Essex and Suffolk Hunt has been contacted for comment.


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