For the most recent hunting season, Forestry England gave hunting licences for 34 fox & hare “trail hunts”. Despite hunting wild mammals with dogs being illegal, two of the licensed/previously licensed trail hunts have been associated with convictions under the Hunting and Animal Welfare Acts.
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Other licensed fox hunts have recently been in the press for alleged trespass, killing foxes, losing control of their dogs & for another criminal conviction. A saboteur was severely injured at a hunt in early September that ordinarily receives a licence from Forestry England.
It is only a matter of time before more convictions and more bans will have to be implemented. The answer is simple and effective – stop granting licences to hunts that are continuing to use the myth of ‘trail hunting’ to chase and kill wildlife.
Trail hunting is a legal activity. Forestry England permits trail hunting under an agreement with the Masters of Fox Hounds Association. It has the power to suspend or withdraw any permission.
The Government responded to a petition on this issue on 10 September 2020 and the position remains the same. The full response can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300634
Trail hunting in the nation's forests is currently suspended in response to confirmation that the police are investigating webinars hosted by the Hunting Office.
Forestry England has no plans to end the granting of permission for trail hunting where the hunts concerned can meet the terms and conditions of the permission which are themselves kept under regular review.
The Government will not amend the Hunting Act 2004.