POLICE and the RSPCA are investigating after a North Yorkshire hunt damaged private property while chasing a fox.

Hounds from the York and Ainsty Hunt chased a fox through the gardens of homes in Oulston Road in Easingwold at about midday on Saturday, causing damage to fences and garden furniture and breaking laws passed in 2005 relating to the hunting of live foxes.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: "The dogs had bolted after the fox and come down through the woods into a residential area, completely out of control and clearly hunting foxes which is against the law. A young lady on the horse was on the phone all the time, phoning to the hunt, and the whipper-in sat watching them asked permission to come into my garden to get the dogs. They had rampaged through three gardens, breaking garden furniture and fencing. The fox bolted to our neighbour's garage where we secured it and left it in there until dusk.

"The master of the hunt came down and saw the damage, accepted responsibility for the damage. They couldn't do anything else. They knocked down fences and pots and he offered to make good which is fine, but the main concern for me is they broke the law. Dogs shouldn't trespass on private property and they shouldn't be hunting foxes."

A brief statement issued by North Yorkshire Police about the incident said: "Police confirm they received two complaints shortly after midday on Saturday 27 February, of damage to fences and gardens caused by hounds involved in a hunt. Enquiries are ongoing."

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: "We were called about an incident involving a fox in the area of Oulston Road, Easingwold, York on Saturday (27 February) and are assisting police with their ongoing investigation."

A spokesman for the York and Ainsty Hunt said the master of the hunt had spoken to residents following the incident, and offers had been made to repay residents for damage to their gardens.