A HUNT master has refuted allegations that a fox was killed during a trail hunt in Colchester.

It is claimed a fox was killed while the Essex and Suffolk Hunt trail hunted in Friday Woods, to the south of Colchester.

A resident of Finchingfield Way, Berechurch, reported hearing the “screeching” of a fox being killed on Wednesday afternoon.

Hunt master James Buckle denied the allegation and said all trail hunting rules were followed throughout the course of the activity.

Gazette: Nature - Friday Woods, ColchesterNature - Friday Woods, Colchester

The resident, who has requested to remain anonymous, said what they heard was “unmistakably a fox”.

They said: “The dogs were out of sight of the hunt. Their shouting and horns could be heard some distance away.

“We heard dogs barking nearby.

“There was lots of screeching, lots of noise and then silence. It was unmistakably a fox.”

Gazette: Beauty spot - Friday WoodsBeauty spot - Friday Woods

The animal lover added: “I was absolutely gutted knowing this happened so close to where I live.

“This is an area where people take their children and walk their dogs. The chance of a child or a pet being hurt is quite high.”

Hunt master Mr Buckle, who was not present on Wednesday, said he has been assured no animal was hurt.

It is legal for horses and their riders to follow a scent left on a trail route but fox hunting is illegal.

Mr Buckle said: “We hunted three trails around Friday Wood. We had a good day and there were no campaigners at all.

Gazette: Controversial - a previous hunt in Friday Woods, ColchesterControversial - a previous hunt in Friday Woods, Colchester (Image: Wendy Adams)

“I gather everything went completely smoothly. They were hunting and hunted really well apparently, from what I’ve been told.”

The land is owned by the Ministry of Defence and trail hunting is permitted on it, so long as the relevant licences are obtained and the law is followed.

The Government body has previously been criticised for allowing hunts on its land in Colchester.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “It is a condition of the licence that should any mammal be killed during the course of the trail hunt, this is reported promptly to the MoD.

“If illegal behaviour is witnessed or suspected on MoD land, this should be reported to the police.”