Hunt Sabotage and Monitoring

What the hunt can & can’t do:

Hunting Act 2004

Howl article (hunts) on the law with regards to the hunt

In brief, it is a criminal offence to hunt a wild animal with a pack of dogs, except for in certain circumstances (“exempt hunting”). Hare coursing was made illegal in its entirety.

With regards to fox hunting, these exemptions are extremely important for us to know about. For example, a hunt may “flush” (scare out) an animal from a covert using 2 dogs if the animal is shot upon being flushed out. Alternatively, the dogs may be used to flush an animal from a covert in order for a bird of prey to take over hunting it – this of course does not mean that the dogs can give chase over many fields before the animal is killed by the bird – with “falconry” it is the bird which should be doing the hunting.

Of course, following a false trail laid by the hunt prior to setting out is legal as there would be no animal at the end of the trail to be killed.

Different police forces will interpret the “gamekeepers’ exemption” (as it is known) differently. A (competent) person may use one dog (usually a terrier) below ground to flush out an animal if they are the landowner or have specific written permission from the landowner to do so for the purposes of protecting gamebirds (pheasants and so on). The animal would have to be shot dead by a competent person immediately upon being flushed out.

The most sensible interpretation heard was that “terriermen” out with a hunt could not use the gamekeepers’ exemption whilst with the hunt and, therefore, could not dig-out a fox which had been chased to ground by the hunt. They could, however, return later (or at another time) and separately from any hunt and be able to legally flush out and shoot a fox in order to protect gamebirds. Looking at the Act, the exemption only allows an animal to be flushed out and shot, not dug out, so any “dig-out” should be automatically illegal. Additionally, the Protection of Badgers Act makes it illegal to interfere in any way with a badger sett, so any animal seeking shelter in a sett would have to be left alone entirely.

As for hunt monitors and saboteurs, there are various bits of legislation which you may come across. These should already be explained on this site, so we’ll just link you to the main things we can think of. Feel free to contact us if you have any specific queries or think we have missed anything.

Taking photos

Breach of the peace


Aggravated trespass

Police search powers (under s60)

Removal of face masks

Giving your details

Howl article (sabs) on the law with regards to the sabs