ANTI-hunt activists have called for police action after clashes at an outing of the Old Berkshire Hunt at Uffington.

Members of the group Protect Our Wild Animals (Powa) monitoring an all-day meeting of the hunt on Saturday, February 24, claimed the hounds invaded a fenced nature reserve near the village and were filmed "tearing an animal apart".

The reserve, Uffington Gorse, is owned by the Woodland Trust, the UK's leading woodland conservation charity, which said it might pursue the illegal invasion of its land.

The Powa supporters said the film was being forwarded to the police.

They said a later examination of the wood revealed evidence of "multiple hoofprints" in the mud within Uffington Gorse, which was established in the 1920s.

Spokesman Penny Little said: "We were very concerned indeed."

Jessica Leigh-Pemberton, Master of the Old Berks Hunt, insisted that while they had permission from the Woodland Trust to enter Uffington Gorse once during the hunting season, there was no kill of any animal by their hounds.

She said there were 70 riders, with another 60 people following by car.

She said: "We had our stewards filming them filming us, but there was no aggressive behaviour and I haven't heard of any heated exchanges and verbal abuse of any sustained nature."

She added: "We were trail hunting, and there was no incident within the Gorse."

A spokesman for the Woodland Trust, created in the 1920s to protect areas of native woodland as wildlife habitats, insisted the hunt did not have permission to go into the Gorse on horseback.

"They have permission to go on to our land to retrieve stray hounds with a maximum of three people, but this has to be on foot and not on horseback "They have to seek permission each season, and the last time this particular hunt asked for permission was during 1997-8.

"If there has been a breach of the law, then this would be taken up and investigated further by the police based on the evidence provided by Powa."

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said they had a report of people gathered in the area on Saturday who were opposed to the hunt. Officers "paid passing attention", but were not aware of any criminal actiivity.