What does the law say about hunting with dogs?
The Hunting Act 2004, which came into effect early in 2005, has made it illegal (except under certain exemptions, always requiring the landowner’s specific consent) for anyone intentionally to allow a dog to chase or hunt a wild mammal. Almost all wild mammals are included in the species that cannot now be hunted in this way, including deer, foxes and hares.
The legal position allows hunts to operate only by following a predetermined coursed on which hunts can lay a trail, known as “drag hunting”.
What is Dorset Wildlife Trust’s policy on hunting with dogs?
Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserves equate to less than 0.005% of the county area and have highest priority for nature conservation. In this way, we are able to allow people to enjoy and appreciate nature.
Given that the course of a (drag) hunt is no longer a matter of chance, there is no necessity for a drag hunt to run through our reserves. The route of any drag course can and should avoid the small area of Dorset Wildlife Trust reserves, so eliminating the risk of incidental damage and disturbance to wildlife and habitat that such activity may cause.
The legitimate practice of drag hunting can take place in the hugely greater area of the wider (non-nature reserve) countryside. Any application made by a hunt for consent to lay a trail across our nature reserves is thus refused.