Foxes are wounded, rather than killed, when shot far more often than previously thought, according to a new report commissioned by the Middle Way Group.

A study conducted by five independent experts found this to be the case with all types of ammunition and at all distances.

The report concludes that “under common field conditions, for every fox shot dead with a shotgun, at least the same number are wounded, and many of these are never found”.

The report also offers detailed advice on the weapons and ammunition that performed best.

Rifles above .22 calibre are described as “capable of better welfare performance than most shotguns beyond about 25 yards, but limited in their usefulness owing to practical and safety issues.”

MP Lembit Opik, co-chair of the Middle Way Group, said: “No longer can anyone pretend that a ban on hunting with dogs would lead to an improvement in animal welfare – especially since there isn’t even any evidence to suggest that ‘the chase’ is worse than being wounded by a gun.”

Nigel Davenport, Countryside Alliance director of the Campaign for Shooting, said: “The alliance believes that it is crucial that all forms of [fox] control are retained.

“This study confirms what those who are actively involved in fox control already know, but does reinforce the need for the correct choice of weapon and ammunition, as well as emphasising the need for practice to maximise accuracy.”

Read the full story in this week’s Horse &Hound (12 June), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.