Footage of an alleged illegal hare hunt by Eton College’s beagling club in North Yorkshire has been leaked by animal cruelty campaigners.
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) group claims to have submitted a video to North Yorkshire Police which appears to show affiliates of Britain’s most famous school hunting hares in Aldby Park at Buttercrambe near York.
The campaign group says the footage was taken by its own private investigators and appears to show the Eton club flouting laws that ban the hunting of mammals with dogs that have been in place for over a decade.
The video shows a pack of beagles chasing down the scent of hares, while hunt staff – which the LACS says are identifiable as from Eton by their distinctive uniform of brown velvet jackets – urge the dogs on with shouts of “tally-ho”.
Eton College has said that it takes its legal responsibilities “extremely seriously” and is investigating the allegation as a “matter of urgency”.
Campaigners have called on North Yorkshire Police and Eton College bosses to take action.
Tom Quinn, campaigns director for the LACS, said: “North Yorkshire Police will be examining footage that appears to show the prolonged chase of a hare by the Eton beagles. Could Britain’s top public school be hunting despite it being very cruel and against the law?
“Since the hunting ban was introduced, hare hunts use a variety of excuses for their continued existence. Having traditionally hunted hares, they now tend to claim that they are rabbit hunting, trail hunting or even just exercising the dogs in a bid to sanitise their activity. But it doesn’t seem that’s what they’re doing in this video.”
The group claims the footage was recorded at Buttercrambe on Tuesday October 27 following a tip-off.
The LACS says the hare hunting season used to run from September or October until March, while hare chases can last up to 90 minutes before the wild animals are killed by the dogs.
A spokeswoman for Eton said: “Eton College takes its legal responsibilities extremely seriously and expects all school activities to comply with the law.
“We are investigating this allegation as a matter of urgency and will be co-operating fully with the relevant authorities.”
A North Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “North Yorkshire Police received video footage from the League Against Cruel Sports on the morning of Tuesday 26 January 2016 relating to alleged illegal hunt activity in the Buttercrambe area and will be investigating the matter.”