Hunting Act 2004

Wednesday 8th July 2015

Fox cubImage credit: Clive Nichols














What does the law say about hunting with dogs?

Currently, the Hunting Act 2004, which came into effect early in 2005, has made it illegal (except under certain exemptions, always requiring the landowner’s specific consent) for anyone intentionally to allow a dog to chase or hunt a wild mammal. Almost all wild mammals are included in the species that cannot now be hunted in this way, including deer, foxes and hares.

The legal position allows hunts to operate only by following a predetermined coursed on which hunts can lay a trail, known as “drag hunting”.

Where do the Wildlife Trusts' stand on fox hunting? 

The main thrust of The Wildlife Trusts’ work is to conserve, enhance and restore wildlife habitats and populations of species across the UK. The Wildlife Trusts' charitable objects therefore define our perspective on field sports – and the proposed amendment to the Hunting Act.

In some cases hunting can damage important habitats and cause disturbance to vulnerable populations of wildlife, and for this reason there is a long-standing presumption against field sports on Wildlife Trust nature reserves. Beyond our nature reserves individual Wildlife Trusts may on occasions raise concerns about the impact of a hunt on critical wildlife habitats or vulnerable populations of species. But our long-held position on legal field sports is that we are neither for, nor against, them. We recognise and respect the strong feelings held by people, and many of our members, on this issue.

As with other issues, we advise people to contact their MPs if they feel strongly about this – whatever their view.