The claims were made after a dog-walker near Maidstone in Kent accidentally came across a fox release pen and a supply of dog food belonging to a charity called the Fox Project.

He took photos and a video of the site, which he then passed to the online broadcaster Fieldsports Channel TV.

Presenter and former Shooting Times columnist Charlie Jacoby said: ?This footage proves that animal welfare groups are releasing unfit and orphaned foxes into the wild. Young foxes are being fed on dog food and it?s very unlikely they will survive.?

The Fieldsports Channel interviewed local smallholder, Phil Chandler, who told the programme makers that he believed foxes in the area were more numerous, getting bolder and looking for easy prey as ?they don?t know how to hunt.?

He said: ?They seem to be taking the easy option, which obviously is people?s chickens. People try to keep chickens more naturally, but they?re not able to do it with the amount of foxes we?ve got round here.?

Charlie Jacoby told Shooting Times that he believed organisations such as the Fox Project and the RSPCA deliberately choose release sites next to other people?s pets and livestock, as they are a good source of food for the foxes.

He said: ?Releasing foxes in the countryside is nuts, releasing them next to a free-range chicken run is idiotic and feeding them on dog food before you release them is cruel. You get them used to dog food and to humans, and they will steal pets and livestock once they are back in the wild.?

The Fox Project works with volunteers and says it cares for sick and injured foxes and abandoned fox cubs and then ?provides for rehabilitation back into the wild?.

Responding to the accusations, spokesman Trevor Williams said: ?In choosing release sites, we rely on the advice and knowledge of the person offering the facility. We have occasionally been invited to look at potential release sites and turned them down after identifying problems, such as a pheasant farm in nearby woods.?

?It would be absurd to release cubs that we have rescued and raised, only then to send them into an environment where livestock owners might take them out in defence of stock.?

?As far as I am aware, none of our current release pens are in such a situation.?

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