“Horrific” footage of a bloodied fox being mauled by dogs at a hunt in Fife has sparked criticism of the pursuit as a tighter ban is sought.
Hunt saboteurs filmed the apparently dead animal being dragged by its leg by a huntsman as hounds snap and tear at it.
Fife and Central Scotland Hunt Sabs said it witnessed the “horrific scenes” on a hillside a mile from Letham, near Cupar, at the weekend.
There is nothing in the video to suggest the hunting group had acted illegally.
A member of Fife and Central Scotland Hunt Sabs said: “An animal being physically ripped apart and then seeing their body tossed around like they’re worthless while the killer smiles with satisfaction is awful.
“This animal didn’t need to die this terrifying and brutal death.”
Hunting with hounds was banned in 2002, but an exemption allows foxes to be flushed out by dogs and shot as a pest control measure.
The new bill announced in January aims to close loopholes and restrict hunts to two dogs.
Green MSP Mark Ruskell condemned the actions of the hunters in the video and urged fellow parliamentarians to ban the activity as soon as possible.
He said: “Quite frankly, I’m disgusted. Alison Johnston’s member’s bill to finally ban the hunting of foxes using dogs cannot come soon enough.”
The recording shows the fox’s limp body being carried by a red-coated huntsman and dumped on the ground among the baying hounds.
A video posted by the group a fortnight earlier showed a huntsman hold out a severed fox tail to saboteurs as he rode past and gloat: “You can’t save them all.”
Fife Foxhounds insisted it always acted within the law, but declined to comment further.
Jamie Stewart, director of the Countryside Alliance, said it appeared the hunt had been conducted legally, with a gunman clearly visible in the video.
He said: “The Fife Foxhounds operate a much-needed pest control service, delivered within the legislative prescription laid down in the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.
“On viewing the video recording posted by self-proclaimed hunt saboteurs, I am unable to see any illegal activity from the Fife Foxhounds.”
He accused the group of waging a “vitriolic campaign”‘ by posting videos online, which often led to threats of violence towards staff and their families, and said they should go to police if they believe a wildlife crime has been committed.
Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said the existing law was not having the desired effect, and there remained considerable public concern about fox hunting.
Gamekeepers have warned reduced ability to control foxes would be a disaster for wildlife and farm stock, with two hounds an “ineffective tool”.