Hunting on Council Owned Land

Hunting on Council Owned Land


View in PDF format  :  Info Leaflet for landowners
(Feel free to download & print)

Updated  :  December 2021


Reasons why landowners and councils should not give permission for hunts to use their land.


As you are probably now aware, hunts have recently come under the spotlight after two internal webinars videos from the hunting office were leaked. 


These videos exposed the lies that hunts have been deceitfully stating for many years, high ranking hunt officials admitting that trail hunting is used as a fake smokescreen to hide their true intent of illegal hunting.


Many major land owners across the country have now decided to ban “Trail Hunting” on their land as they do not want to be associated with illegal hunting under the guise name of Trail Hunting.


Councils must also consider their relationships they may have with hunts for various reasons.

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Points to consider :-


1.   Hunts are not covered by insurance when illegally hunting.

When landowners allow hunts onto their land, they automatically assume that the hunts are covered by their own insurance. Hunts that engage in illegal activities are not covered by insurance. 

To avoid being held personally liable, many hunts have now registered themselves as a company. This has given hunts more freedom to take risks without the hunt masters or members being held personally liable i.e this transfers responsibility onto the company.

Many hunts are now run as registered companies and are therefore subject to exactly the same Health and Safety legislation as other businesses. This includes the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974, Section 3.

However, as a condition of membership, many hunts have made it compulsory for members to sign a disclaimer form to waiver liability, although it is highly unlikely a hunt member would sue their own hunt.  So hunts tend to get away with any accidents involving members caused through safety neglect.

Their Public Liability insurance cover would also be questionable while engaged in illegal hunting. 


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2.   The public would be outraged to find out their council had enabled illegal hunting to take place by giving land use permission.

In 2005 hunts decided to rename fox, stag, hare and mink hunting to trail hunting as a means of testing and avoiding the new laws. If thieves just renamed burglary to item borrowing would it then become legal? Trail hunting is just a smokescreen name to hide its true intent of illegal hunting. 85% of the public are against cruel brutal hunting and would be horrified to find out council money had been spent on supporting hunts or enabling illegal hunting to take place.      


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3.   Guilty  :  The truth about trail hunting finally exposed.

This follows the conviction of Mark Hankinson (Director of Master of Foxhounds Association). He was found guilty in court of encouraging illegal hunting by advising hunting groups in an online webinar video seminar how to lie, mislead and use trail hunting as a smokescreen to fool observers, police and commit perjury in court. 

Landowners have lost trust in the Countryside Alliance (CA) and Hunting Office to be open and honest and do not wish to risk their reputation or be held liable. This received national coverage and exposed the real truth about trail hunting.

Hankinson guilty
webinar convos


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4.   Major land owners ban trail hunting.

Many major landowners and councils are now banning hunts from using their land. This follows a shocking webinar video of leading figures from the hunting office plotting how to create smokescreen lies to cover up the true illegal intent of trail hunting. Landowners have lost trust in hunts and MFHA (main governing body for hunting) to stay within the law.

As trail hunting has now been proven beyond doubt to be a cover for illegal hunting, landowners could now find themselves being prosecuted as it’s against the law to knowingly allow your land to be used for illegal hunting.

Landowners ban hunts


National Trust

We no longer issue licences for any trail hunting activities.

In coming to a decision on this complex, contentious issue, our Board of Trustees considered a wide range of factors, including but not limited to : 

1. a loss of trust and confidence in the Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), which governs trail hunting

2. the recent guilty verdict in the court case of Mark Hankinson, the director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA)

3. the appropriate use of funds. 

4. the risk of reputational harm to the Trust. 

5. result of the recent members resolution vote on this matter at our October 2021 AGM.


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5.   Code of Conduct for Councillors.

All councils are required to have a local Councillor Code of Conduct. It is clear that many councillors are pro-hunt and have connections to local hunts. Many are past or present members of their local hunt and even hunt masters.

The code of conduct requires councillors to be open, honest and declare any conflicts of interest which may affect their vote or personal gain.
Councillors must b
e impartial and non-biased when exercising their responsibilities.


Section 29 of the Localism Act 2011 requires the Monitoring Officer to establish and maintain a register of interests of members of the authority.

Councillors need to register their interests so that the public, local authority employees and fellow councillors know which of their interests might give rise to a conflict of interest. The register is a public document that can be consulted when (or before) an issue arises.

Failure to register or disclose a disclosable pecuniary interest is a criminal offence under the Localism Act 2011


Councillors who do not declare their personal interest and vote to allow hunts access to council land could be in breech of the Code of Conduct and misuse of their position as a councillor. Many councillors have been exposed for not declaring their conflict of interest.


Now that “Trail Hunting” has been exposed as a smokescreen lie to cover its true intent of illegal hunting, it is highly questionable if any council or councillor should be promoting, approving applications or have any connections to hunts. Councils should not be facilitating or assisting illegal hunting.


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6.   Hunts regularly break by-laws

Hunts regularly break council by-laws with their uncontrolled hounds in public places and illegal quad bikes. The Council is responsible and cover issues relating to :


  • Stray dogs in public areas.
  • Nuisance controls.
  • Microchipping of dogs.
  • Dogs not on leads in PSPOs areas. 
  • Dogs fouling in PSPOs areas.
  • Dogs on public footpaths, bridle paths and other roads & tracks under their jurisdiction.
  • Dogs loose on “non-designated” roads (i.e council maintained) which have a PSPO in place.
  • Orders under the Dogs Act 1871 with respect to a dog not kept under control and in collaboration with police.
  • Illegal quad bikes on non-designated roads.

Illegal Quad Bikes

Terriermen - illegal quadbikes001b


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7.   Inappropriate use of funds.

When councils give permission for hunts to hold meets on council-owned land and public areas (especially Boxing Day meets), it costs money to arrange for police presence, closed roads, provide safety barriers for the public and the clean up costs, especially hound and horse faeces.

The public should not be expected to cover these costs; it is an abuse of public funds.


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8.   The council (Landowner) could find themselves being prosecuted for allowing such activity to take place, knowing trail hunting is just a cover name for illegal hunting.

It is illegal to knowingly allow the use of your land for illegal hunting. Now that hunts have exposed themselves as liars and openly admitted using smokescreens to disguise their real intent of hunting, landowners are now fully aware of the illegal activities hunts engage in. Councils and landowners are fully aware hunts are illegally hunting and could find themselves being prosecuted for allowing such activity to take place. 


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9.   Hunts cause chaos on roads with hounds running uncontrolled in front of vehicles.

Hunts regularly allow their hounds to roam freely ahead of the hunt, this is a tactic used by the hunts to avoid being seen to encourage their hounds to chase a wild animal. 

This reckless uncontrolled management of their hounds allows hounds to wander onto busy main roads putting motorists lives at risk.


The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires hunts to have “proper control of their hounds”, it is also condition that each dog used in the hunt are kept under sufficiently close control.




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10.   Health & Safety.

Many hunts are run as registered companies and are therefore subject to exactly the same Health and Safety legislation as other businesses. This includes the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974, Section 3 of which states:
“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

In practice, this means that UK businesses have to carry out risk assessments to identify the risks their activities could pose to the public and then put in place measures to mitigate those risks.


Safety at meets

Horses are unpredictable and easily spooked. Large crowds, lots of horses, noise and hounds do not mix well, which can lead to an unsafe, dangerous situation.

There have been incidents where spooked horses have ran into crowds and injured spectators.

Chaos on boxing day


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11.   Hounds are not kept on leads (even in PSPO areas) and often roam into public places becoming a public nuisance.

A pack of uncontrolled hounds become public pests when allowed to roam without being on leads.



Hunts allow their hounds to become pests 005

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12.   Hunts do not clean up after their hounds foul in public places.

Hounds fouling 004



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13.   Many hounds die on roads and railway lines because hunts are unable to control their hounds.

This reckless behaviour puts the public and motorists in danger.

Hounds killed on roads 001b


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14.   Non-designated roads and public rights of way.

Non-designated roads fall under the remit of the local council. It is the councils responsibility to ensure rules and public safety are upheld for all. A pack of 30+ uncontrolled hounds darting out onto the road is not proper control and it is highly irresponsible for any council to allow this to happen. 

Local Authorities now have sole responsibility for stray dogs under s68 of the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005 (CNEA). 


Hunts also use public rights of way, bridle paths, foot paths and tracks, bringing them into direct conflict with the public, dog walkers and cyclists. Hounds run uncontrolled defecating all over the place without it being picked up and often attacking domestic pets being walked.




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15.   Hunts gather in large crowds which may breach covid-19 regulations.

Hunts have continued to operate for most of the pandemic with no regards to the health & safety of others, meeting in large gatherings with no masks or social distancing. One rule for them and another for everyone else.

Large gatherings 001

Large gatherings 002

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16.   Hunt Violence.

Hunts will go to extreme lengths to prevent themselves being caught on camera engaging in illegal hunting. Their violent tactics range from intimidation, assault, stealing recording equipment and even ramming cars off the road.

Below is just a small sample showing how violent hunts can be. 

Hunt violence 002


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17.   Livestock worrying.

Hounds are trained to chase and kill, they will often chase any animal they come across including livestock. Hunts recklessly allow them to roam freely ahead out of sight with no control. Often the damage is already done before the hunt riders catch up.

Hounds chasing livestock 001


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18.   Hounds are trained to chase and kill, attacks on domestic pets are common.

There have been many occasions were hounds invade public spaces and attacked domestic pets. Hounds are trained to chase and kill, putting them in a high risk group.

Hounds chasing pets 001


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19.   Damage to flora and fauna by hunts, horses, hounds and followers.

Large gatherings of horses, hounds, and their followers, pose a threat to the environment, flora and fauna, churning up land, disturbing delicate eco systems and wildlife.



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20.   Illegally blocking of badger setts.

It is normal practice for hunts to illegally block badger setts before the days hunting to prevent hunted foxes going to ground.



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21.   Spread of  bTB across the countryside by hunts going from farm to farm.

Hunts and their hounds roam all over the countryside going from farm to farm and are a major biosecurity risk.

An independent investigation and commissioned report into a bovine TB outbreak of hunting hounds at the Kimblewick Hunt kennels has raised alarms about the role hunts have in spreading disease and has confirmed that hunts are a major biosecurity risk to the countryside, farms and wild animals. 

The first set of figures released by the hunt claimed that 25 hounds had tested positive for bTB and had to be euthanised, but the investigation revealled that, in fact, 97 dogs had tested positive for the disease.

The first infected hound was discovered in 2016, but still they kept on hunting trying to keep it out of the press before finally being forced to admit the outbreak.




Government figures have shown that the number of TB outbreaks in or near one of Britain’s biggest hunts, which covers countryside from Hampshire to Hertfordshire, doubled in four months after the disease was first detected in its hounds last year.  Thirty-five outbreaks of bovine TB were recorded in and around the Kimblewick Hunt area.

Hounds spreading bTB


Link  :  The Truth about Hounds spreading disease


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22.   Welfare of the horse and hounds.

Hunting is one of the most unregulated equestrian activity and abuse is common. The hunted quarry are not the only victims of hunting. The activity of hunting often brings it in direct conflict with the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Hunts often subject their horses and hounds to unnecessary injury risk, suffering, abuse and danger. 

Where nearly all other equestrian events would cancel their days activities if ground conditions were poor, ie flooded, waterlogged, boggy, icy, deep going etc to prevent injury to their horses, hunts unfortunately will carry on regardless of the risks in all conditions.

Hunts fail to carry out risk assessments of the fences, ground and route they take, this is because they simply do not know where the hounds may run i.e the chase can be for miles in any direction.


  • It is common for hunters to jump fences with hidden dangers, barbwire, protruding objects, nails etc also jumping hedges out onto main roads. Fences which are a high risk and a danger to the horse.
  • Hounds are often caught up in barbwire, allowed to run on busy main roads and railway lines.
  • Terriermens dogs are used to fight wild animals below ground and suffer horrific injuries.


Hunt Horses  :  Are forced to jump barbwire, horrific unsafe ditches, banks and hedges, and spend a lot of their time being made to gallop up busy main roads.

Hunt horses suffer tooB


Hunt Hounds  :  Some hunts care for their hounds well, many don’t.  On hunting days hounds get caught up in fences and suffer horrendous injuries. If these hounds are deemed unfit to keep up with the pack they will be shot.

Hunt hounds suffer tooB


Terrier Dogs  :  These dogs are used by hunts (Terriermen) to flush out any chased foxes gone to ground. They send their dogs down holes to dog fight with a fox below ground. This results in horrific injuries to both the hunted animal and terrier dog. This cruel brutal practice is actually still legal in the UK as the government refuse to ban it. If you witness a terrierman with his dogs on a trail hunts, this is a definite sign that illegal hunting is taking place.

terrier dogs 88372


Animal Welfare Act 2006 states :  

 Unnecessary suffering  :  A person commits an offence if he causes an animal to suffer unnecessary.

Duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare :  A person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice. its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.


Link  :  Cruelty and Injury to Hunt Horses


Link  :  How Hunts Treat their Horses


Link  :  Hunting Fatalities


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23.   Ethical and lawful reasoning.

The public are now fully aware that since the 2004 Hunting Act came into force, hunts have been lying to the public, police, councils and courts, using trail hunting as a smokescreen cover for illegal hunting. 

Councillors must ask themselves if it is appropriate to support and facilitate the illegal killing of wildlife. Is this what councillors are really elected for.


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It is important that Councils are held responsible for any unlawful hunting action which occurs on council owned land resulting from permission granted to Trail Hunts.

If you feel strongly regarding this, please feel free to use our template letter to send to your local council to help ban trail hunting. 


Link  :  Template letter to Councils

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Even though it has now been proven beyond doubt that trail hunting is a lie and smokescreen, the Hunting Office and Countryside Alliance continue with their lies and farce claiming trail hunting is lawful. Since the ban came into force in 2005, thousands of video evidence have been caught on camera of hunts breaking the law.


Hundreds of prosecutions have taken place for illegal hunting. Hunts have proven time and time again they are unwilling to stay within the law and create devious fake smokescreens to cover their true intent.


It is clear any landowners seriously need to reconsider giving hunts any permission to use their land and ensure all other laws and regulations also apply to hunts.


Supporting hunting is a toxic cause for any Council who rely on public votes.


Hunts are a public nuisance and liability.


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