Dorset Police say they are investigating after receiving a report of illegal hunting.
The constabulary says it was first contacted over concerns people were not observing the rule of six – part of the government’s rules to counter the Coronavirus pandemic.
Police say organised hunts are not subject that rule, because they are organised sporting events, but they are now looking into a subsequent complaint of illegal fox hunting at Mappowder.
A local hunt monitoring group says its members filmed a hunt operating with dogs in the area on the morning of Saturday, September 26.
Somerset Wildlife Crime said that after making an initial report of a breach in COVID-19 regulations to 101, they were told the hunt were not breaking any rules and were exempt from the latest ‘rule of six’.
The group said it then called 999 to make a separate allegation of illegal fox hunting.
A spokesperson for Dorset Police said that hunting mammals with dogs has been illegal since 2004 and that they are investigating the matter.
In a statement Dorset Police said that they received a report at 8.12am on Saturday 26 September 2020 for an alleged breach of COVID-19 regulations relating to members of a hunt gathering at Pulham near Dorchester.
They said: “Officers attended and the informant was advised that the latest ‘rule if six’ COVID restrictions introduced by the Government did not apply to organised hunts as they are a sporting gatherings and exempt.
“A subsequent report was received that the group was involved in illegal fox hunting. Investigations into the matter are ongoing.
“Dorset Police 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.
“Anyone wishing to report a breach of the Hunting Act should contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”