Over the next few months, Forestry England (owned by the Government) will allow 7 different ‘trail’ hunts to use Forestry England land.

On the Forestry England website a list of all of the ‘trail hunting’ dates has been published and reveals that the Suffolk Hunt, Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray Hunt, New Forest Hounds, New Forest Beagles, Hursley & Hambledon, Cottesmore Hunt and the Bilsdale Hunt have all been given licences to use Forestry England land for so-called ‘trail hunts’.

You can see the full list and the areas in which these hunts will be taking place below;

On October 6th the anti-hunting organisation Keep The Ban set up a petition calling on Forestry England to stop handing out these licenses.

The petition reads:

“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.

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.”

Indeed the Cottesmore Hunt in particular has a long history of incidents involving wildlife being killed and a tragic case in 2018 where ten hounds were fatally struck by a car. One has to question how this could have happened given the claim that the hunts follow an artificial scent that hounds ended up crossing a busy road.

Forestry England makes the below claim;

“The Hunting Act 2004 banned hunting with dogs in England, including on land managed by Forestry England. Trail hunting was widely promoted as an alternative activity before the Hunting Act and is still legal.

Some traditional, long-standing hunting groups still use forests we manage to trail hunt where they did before. We strictly control trail hunting with permissions and licences according to an agreement with the Masters of Fox Hounds Association.”

I’m sure that the readers of this can make their own mind up.

If you would like to sign the petition to end hunting on Forestry England land then click here.

If you would like to submit a prewritten letter to Forestry England you can also do that by clicking here.