POLICE have launched an investigation after finding 16 fox cubs in a barn near Malton

Officers acting on intelligence searched an outbuilding on the Birdsall Estate on Sunday morning under the Animal Welfare Act. 

The Estate company has said the outbuilding is on a long-term lease to another organisation and said neither the Estate nor any of its employees had anything to do with any alleged crime.

Officers rescued the fox cubs, all aged from about six to eight weeks old, and the cubs are now being cared for in an animal sanctuary outside of North Yorkshire.

A man has since been arrested in connection with the incident but has been released on bail as the investigation continues. 

PC Jez Walmsley, Wildlife Crime Officer for Ryedale said that the cubs were being fed and had access to water but that police were keen to know how they got in the barn and who had put them there. 

He said: "These cubs had been taken out of the wild, and will have come from at least four different litters. I am appealing to anyone with any information about these foxes, particularly landowners and the communities of Birdsall, Leavening and Thixendale, to contact me.

"I also want to hear from anyone who is aware of earth being dug out or vixens being killed, as they could have important information that could assist the investigation."

Anyone with information should phone North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Jeremy Walmsley or email jeremy.walmsley@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk, quoting reference number 12150090111. 

Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.