A COUNCIL leader has joined a row over an incident in which a mother with a child in her arms allegedly forced a fox towards dogs during a ‘hunt’.

BCP Council boss Vikki Slade said she is “disgusted” and has accused Dorset Police of “turning a blind eye” to events which allegedly concern the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt.

But representatives from the hunt say "keyboard warriors" are able to "publish false accusations" in order to support their fundraising.

Saboteurs from animal campaign group Wildlife Witness claim they have filmed footage which shows illegal activity at the hunt’s first meet of the season, which took place on Saturday at Stalbridge Park, North Dorset.

In a post on the campaigners’ Facebook page, it was claimed: “Within ninety minutes of the start of the season they have provided us all with proof that they are openly fox-hunting.

“Having spent 15 minutes drawing through neck high maize, where no trail could possibly have been laid, a holla was heard from the far end of the field and hounds were soon in full cry.

“Seconds later it was clear that the fox had broken cover, as three hunt followers careered down the hill shouting and waving their arms, attempting to stop it.

“Thankfully the cub, clearly visible, was able to pass these vile individuals only to be confronted by the shocking image of a female carrying a toddler running towards the fox, trying her best to head it.”

The group called the alleged incident “appalling”, adding: “For a mother to carry her child in her arms, while at the same time attempting to drive a fox to its death, is inexplicable.”

The allegation has been reported to Dorset Police, along with video footage, the group said.

A complaint has also been made to the landowner at Stalbridge Park.

Cllr Slade yesterday called the reported incident “disgusting” and said: “[Police] have to stop turning a blind eye to this.

"These people are clearly breaking the law, and why would someone involved a small child in this?”

Police have confirmed they are looking into the allegations.

A spokesperson from Dorset Police said the force received a report of possible illegal fox hunting in Stalbridge.

The first report was made at 6.40am on the day. The caller said a fox hunt was taking place in Caundle Lane near Sturminster Newton.

A further report was received at 7.50am reporting possible illegal fox hunting in the area of Stalbridge at around 6.15am that morning.

The matter was passed on to local officers and enquiries are ongoing.

The spokesperson said: "We wish to be clear that we will investigate any alleged breaches of the Hunting Act 2004 and other legislation and work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine if a case could be taken to court.

"Hunting mammals with dogs has been illegal since 2004. A few, very specific, exemptions apply.

"We would urge anyone with clear evidence of such offending to please report it to us."

A representative from the hunt said: "At this time of year we are educating young hounds and introducing them to trail-hunting as part of our legal hunting activities to comply with the Hunting Act.

"Trails were laid across land around Stalbridge Park, including through a field of maize and some woodland, to give the hounds the opportunity of following the trail in different conditions.

“Hunts all across the country will begin their season over the forthcoming weeks where the younger hounds are introduced to their perfectly legal hunting activities.

"As usual the start of the season has brought out the anti-hunting activists and keyboard warriors who, due to the lack of editorial control on social media, are able to publish false accusations of illegal hunting in an attempt to discredit the reputation of hunting - and gain donations to their own fundraising causes - without any foundation or evidence to support their claims.”