THE PURSUIT ITSELF IS ILLEGAL.
If you run into a hunt, you might wonder if you should call the police or not. We all know that hunts are breaking the law on a regular basis and they claim they aren’t. They claim they are hunting “within the law”. This guide is for anyone who suspects that hunts are out to kill our wildlife and feel they should call the police but are unsure how or what to report.
Who are the people on the horses?
The HUNTSMAN She/he has control of the hounds.
The MASTER She/he has overall responsibility.
The WHIPPER IN She/he is the HUNTSMAN’S ASSISTANT
The TRAIL LAYERS are hunt staff who are responsible for the “trail”.
TERRIER MEN (usually on quadbikes) dig out foxes and clear up after a kill.
THE FIELD – these are riders who have paid to follow the hunt
The hunts say they are trail hunting. How do I know they aren’t?
Hunts say that they are following a trail of scent laid in advance by themselves, instead of hunting live foxes. To lay a trail, the hunt needs a trail layer (a person with a rag on a stick) trail fluid (possibly made up of a boiled up fox body, or imported fox urine) and a trail map. There are many reasons to doubt the truth of this. Here are some of them:
For a day’s hunting, you would need about 9 gallons of trail fluid, which they must have to store somewhere. No one has seen a hunt with 9 gallons of trail fluid.
You can’t import fox urine without a licence from DEFRA and none has ever been awarded.
The police have repeatedly asked hunts to show them a map of the trail but it is very rare for the hunt to comply (they are not required to, legally).
If I encounter a hunt, how would I know if they are hunting illegally?
It is not illegal for a hunt to meet, ride down the roads and go into fields or send their hunt dogs (hounds) in to a wooded area or field to search for a scent. But it is illegal to pursue a wild mammal.
It is the hunt dogs that do the chasing and the killing, so pay close attention to what they are doing. The hunt dogs take their orders from the huntsman, who communicates with both voice and horn calls. Here is a link. In particular, note the horn call they use to show they have killed.
If the dogs pick up the scent of a fox, they will start to “speak”. Here is the noise of the dogs “speaking”.
Here is a description of the voice and horn sounds
When should I call the police?
If you hear the hunt dogs in cry, and see a fox, call the police. The huntsman is meant to call the hounds off if they “accidentally” start to chase a fox. If she/he allows them to carry on chasing the fox, then they are hunting illegally. If you see this, call 999 immediately. Give the exact location.
What Three Words is a useful app to have on your phone.
There are also apps to find the grid reference of where you are.
Can I report it afterwards?
Yes – you can report illegal hunting on line. You can report it anonymously. You need to find the website for your local police force and find their on-line reporting form. When you have completed the form, make a note of the incident number.
You can also report it, by ringing 101. You don’t have to give your name and address, if you don’t want to. When police ask, say you prefer not to.
Should I take photos and videos of the hunt?
Yes – if you can do so safely. Even if your evidence isn’t good enough for a prosecution, police can use it as intelligence. When you report the offence, say you have evidence.