What right to I have, hunting in the UK

Today whilst talking on the phone and sitting on a tree stump in my lovely garden I herd what sounded like a pack of wild dogs approaching. Then all of a sudden 4 or 5 dogs came bounding through my garden. As you can imagine my dog went absolutely wild and started chasing after them and barking, she’s a German Shepherd and quite big. All but one of the dogs legged it but one stayed and had a bit of a stand off with my dog. In the end after lots of barking and flashing of teeth the other dog was chased out of the garden by mine. I’ve not lived in the countryside for very long and I couldn’t work out where the other dogs had come from. Then after about 20 mins I looked over the valley and saw about 20 people on horse back and about 50 dogs I put 2 and 2 together and realised it was the local hunt.

After watching them for a bit I went inside had a brew and thought nothing more of it till my girlfriend arrived back from work. I went out to meet her and my dog followed. After saying hello I heard the same barking noise again so I put my dog inside the house. Then from nowhere about 50 dogs all baying and barking leapt over the fence, which separates my paddock from the field next door, went bombing through my paddock and into the next-door neighbours land.

Now my question is.

What right have the local hunt go to let their dogs run wild all over the local land and what if my dog would have been out? She would have surely tried but she would have been vastly outnumbered and would have been torn to bits. I’m sure I have the right to let my dog out in my garden whenever I like but with the risk of her ending up in pieces I’m not sure I want to. So what control do the local hunt have to have their dogs under? I’m sure if they’re chasing a fox they’ll chase it anywhere and that includes through my land. Short of sitting out every day with a gun and shooting at the dogs, which I’d hate to do as I love dogs, how do I stop them coming on my land?

They have no right to do so; it is indeed trespass. Unfortunately, hunting is a diffusely organized activity, and it’s unlikely that any responsible party can be identified and singled out for prosecution or litigation. The JHMA (I think) has pretty much denied having any control over local hunts.

As long as you do not hunt deer in King Johns forrest, you’ll be OK.:slight_smile:

Join to countryside buy a shotgun…

FutureKid - do not treat this advice as pro-hunting (I’m uncommitted either way) but looking to your legal rights is probably not the way to settle down in your new rural community.

Hunting with dogs is not illegal and there is certan custom and practice developed which like it or not you could have made yourself aware of before you moved to the countryside. I would recommend finding out who the Master of Foxhounds is (ask around local farmers who generally know him as approach him for compensation for damage to fences etc) and write him a polite letter pointing our your objections to what happened and seeking a proposal from him to mitigate your future objections. Don’t talk about legal action, yoor rights or express views on the moral question - just ask him to avoid situations in which your dog is endangered (if that was the case) and you inconvenienced. It is one of the Masters many jobs to deal with folk with legitimate complaints - and if you stay friendly with everyone you have a much better chance of being accepted into the community.

There is enough rural folk with stereotypes about incoming townies as much as city folk preconceptions about the countryside. Just remember you have moved there - and try to live and let live.

And before anyone points out my Highgate address - I have moved the other way, rural to city…

I’ll echo the above. A quiet word in the pub is all you should need.

The issue isn’t one of hunting in the UK, it’s hunting in England & Wales.

In Scotland pointless barbarity like chasing foxes around the countryside with hounds until exhaustion is illegal. So your rights here would be to report the lot of them to the police. :slight_smile:

I’d say write a letter of complaint to the hunt. Include an account of what happened, and photographs of any damage incurred. IANALawyer, but I think if they’ve messed up the garden, that might constitute criminal damage - though I don’t know how much responsibility the hunt has to for the dogs’ behaviour.

depends what kind of hunt it is.

if it’s a fox hunt, the dogs will run wherever the fox is, so not much control can be taken over them.

if, on the other hand, it’s a drag hunt, the dogs are following the scent of a bag dragged over a course.
in which case they shouldn’t be on anyone’s land.

as far as i can see drag hunting is the way forward for hunts.
it’s a horribly expensive, inhumane and inefficient way of killing foxes. better to employ a man with a shotgun to kill the foxes, and drag hunt.

if the fun of the hunt really IS in the chase, then a drag hunt allows the dogs and horses a good run, if the course is secret the riders get the same excitement, nobody loses their job, and it keeps the RSPCA happy. no?

The Master of the Hunt has overall responsibilty for the hunt, so that includes the hounds. I don’t think there is yet specific legislation that enshrines this in law, but any dog owner is expected to keep their animal under control, so I guess this would apply in this case.

That said speaking to the Master should do the trick. If you don’t get any satisfaction, then the law is the next step. It seems there is a code of conduct for Hunts.


Thanks for all the advice. I have a customer in my pub who works for the hunt so I’ll have a word with him.