Shocking footage released by animal rights activists appears to show hunt members dragging a fox from a hole so it can be hunted by hounds in Thame on New Year’s Day.

The distressing video, which was filmed in Moreton, a hamlet just outside of Thame, allegedly shows members of the Kimblewick Hunt trying to force a fox from a drainage pipe before it is thrown into the woods for their dogs to hunt.

It is illegal to hunt and kill a wild mammal with dogs in England and Wales unless there is an exemption.

The Kimblewick Hunt, based just outside of Aylesbury, covers an area roughly the size of Cornwall and includes parts of High Wycombe, West Wycombe, Downley, Chesham, Amersham and Princes Risborough.

The men in the video, known as terriermen, can be seen discussing which way they want the fox to be released before using draining rods to force the fox they have been allegedly holding captive out of a draining pipe and into the woods.

A man can be seen assembling piping while another is on the phone. After hanging up the phone, shouts of 'hold hard' can be heard in the background.

The man who was constructing the piping then appears to push it into the ground to force the fox towards another man who grabs the fox by the hind legs and pulls it from the hole, before releasing it into the woods.

Minutes later, a number of dogs come into view, searching for the fox.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) says the undercover footage was passed to them after it was recorded on hidden cameras.

Lee Moon, spokesman for the HSA, said: “Incidents like this prove time and again that hunts throughout the UK are still totally focused on hunting and killing live animals. In recent years the South Herefordshire, the Middleton, the Pytchley, the Belvoir and now the Kimblewick have all been implicated in keeping captive foxes to hunt, showing that this behaviour is commonplace amongst hunts.

“Even with this concrete proof of illegal hunting, on one of the most high profile days in the hunting calendar, we expect the MFHA [Masters of Foxhounds Association] to do nothing.

“Unless they immediately suspend the Kimblewick it’s an admission that this kind of activity is still commonplace amongst their member hunts and considered totally acceptable in the hunting community.”

The controversial Kimblewick Hunt came under fire earlier last year amid claims they were putting livestock at risk by parading at the Bucks County Show.

Dozens of hunting hounds were put down following an outbreak of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) at their kennels in 2016.

In response to the release of the video, a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: “All hunts should be operating within the law. There are exemptions to the Hunting Act, and other legal options, which can be used to cull foxes and most hunts still offer a fox control service. However unjustified the Hunting Act is it should be adhered to.”

A spokesman for the MFHA added: “The Masters of Foxhounds Association has strict disciplinary procedures and will fully investigate any credible allegation relating to Masters, hunt employees or hunts.

“It cannot, however, investigate criminal allegations or take any action that would interfere with or impede a possible police investigation."