Widespread Trespass By Hunts Despite Bans From Landowners

Cattistock Hunt & South Dorset Hunt on National Trust land in Dorset. January 2024. Mendip Hunt Sabs

With the 2023/24 fox and hare hunting season coming to an end, it’s clear that despite being banned from using huge swathes of land across the country, hunts are still doing just that.

Cattistock Hunt & South Dorset Hunt on National Trust land in Dorset. January 2024. Mendip Hunt Sabs
Cattistock Hunt & South Dorset Hunt on National Trust land in Dorset. January 2024. Mendip Hunt Sabs

From Cornwall to Cumbria, hunt sabs have recorded nearly 40 trespass incidents on land owned by the big landowners alone. This includes the National Trust, Forestry England, Natural Resources Wales and a host of national parks, all of which commendably banned hunts from using their land following the leaked ‘Hunting Office’ webinars in which the ‘trail hunting’ conspiracy was laid bare.

In reality this is just the tip of the iceberg, with more trespass incidents being recorded by other anti-hunt activists and members of the public, and many more smaller landowners having their farms, small holdings, gardens and animal sanctuaries invaded by packs of marauding hounds in pursuit of foxes, hare and deer.

Melbreak Foxhounds on High Crag, half of which is National Trust land. February 2024. Cumbria Hunt Sabs
Melbreak Foxhounds on High Crag, half of which is National Trust land. February 2024. Cumbria Hunt Sabs

The Cumbrian fell packs are regular offenders, with local hunt sabs doing sterling work in exposing their repeated trespassing on land belonging to the National Trust, Forestry England, Lake District National Parks Authority and wildlife trusts.

On 26th February, Cumbria Hunt Sabs filmed the Eskdale & Ennerdale Foxhounds marking a fox to ground, and then the huntsman and terriermen trying to bolt the fox, on National Trust-owned Rakerigg, near Langdale. The Melbreak Foxhounds have continued their track record of illegality and trespass in the area this season.

Quantocks Staghounds on Forestry England land in Somerset. March 2024. North Dorset Hunt Sabs
Quantocks Staghounds on Forestry England land in Somerset. March 2024. North Dorset Hunt Sabs

The Quantocks Staghounds have also been notable for their repeated offending in Somerset, and were recently caught trespassing on Forestry England land on 11th March, with supporters attempting to physically stop sabs from accessing public footpaths as documented by Mendip Hunt Sabs.

While hunt sabs and others have been diligent at reporting trespass incidents, on the whole the advice from the landowners has just been to contact the police which inevitably goes nowhere, meaning that these bans are hardly worth the paper they are written on.

Until we see a proactive approach from these landowners, such as increased patrols, greater cooperation with anti-hunt activists and civil action against trespassing hunts, their bans on hunting will be nothing more than a PR exercise.

A Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson said:

“This just goes to show the complete disregard that hunts have for rules, bans and the property of those whose land they ride roughshod over.

For the big landowners this is something they would do well to take note of, and is proof that they also need to enforce any rules they set out.

With an election on the horizon, the next Government has an opportunity to strengthen the Hunting Act and end this widespread criminality for good, an opportunity they must take.”

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