Equipment Fund #11. Cheshire Independent Hunt Monitors – an ‘eye in the sky’ on Cheshire’s hunts

The Protecting the Wild Equipment Fund was set up in Summer 2023 to help put ‘eyes in the field‘ (and ‘eyes in the sky’!), supporting and empowering people to protect British wildlife. We use the fund to provide equipment like body cams, trail cams, night vision kit, and video cameras to monitors and activists working on the front line.

While we do approach groups ourselves, we were delighted to be contacted by an independent group of activists who have been doing great work across Cheshire since 2017.  The Cheshire Independent Monitors (or ‘Cheshire Indies’ as they’re widely known) focus on the Cheshire Hunt, Cheshire Forest Hunt, and the notorious Wynnstay Hunt (a Hunt that has featured on Protect the Wild numerous times eg see here). They work alongside other sab and monitor groups from across the northwest of England, and have also been involved in fighting the badger cull in their area.

The group requested a drone – a serious purchase for us to make bearing in mind the cost and the fact that Protect the Wild has a responsibility to our supporters and their donations donations. However, a few phone calls later and assurances that the group would receive drone training, and we were delighted to help out!

The words below explain exactly why and what difference the drone will make.


The Cheshire Independent Monitors are a team of non-affiliated anti-hunt activists based in Cheshire that attend various hunts across the county multiple times a week during the main season and cubbing season too.

For the past five years we have been self-funding, though one of our team makes and sells wonderful items to help with the cost of fuel and equipment when they can.

We have purchased our own body cameras and camcorders which are a necessity when out in the fields with hunts.

Recording equipment in these situations is vital as the equipment’s main role is to document and expose illegal hunting.

The sequence of events required to be captured on film for a successful conviction under the Hunting Act can often be difficult to obtain on the ground, so thoughts of how useful a drone would be were never far from our minds. Especially as over the years we have submitted a lot of evidence to Cheshire Police of illegal hunting in our county, but as aforementioned, this has never ticked all of the right boxes to ensure a conviction.

Recently we saw a Protect the Wild post that explained they were interested in funding equipment for anti-hunt groups.

So we thought that we would give it a go and requested a grant towards the cost of a drone and planned to save up to cover the remaining costs if we were lucky enough to get this grant.

We explained what we needed. who we work with, and what sort of terrain we cover, and our jaws dropped with shock and surprise when an email came through from Protect the Wild offering the full amount to purchase a drone!

Outstanding generosity and so very much appreciated!

Now to put a plan in action!

One of our team knows a qualified drone pilot. The pilot offered a course to the anti-hunt activists’ who were planning to fly the drone.

A fantastic opportunity that we really could not turn down.

Unfortunately, a spate of bad weather (including Storm Ciaran) then followed which delayed the training sessions, but we got there in the end!

Those receiving training spent several hours having tutorials before the instructor would let them get the drone up in the air. This was because the instructor wanted to ensure that everyone fully understood all the rules and regulations of flying a drone.

Time was spent learning about

• Air Law
• Principles of Flight
• Weather Conditions for flight
• Planning the flight
• Risk Assessments
• Responsibilities of People operating the drone
• Awareness of the area



The instructor was incredibly thorough and eventually the drone took to the air and we could then learn about the operation of the drone –

• The control gimbles.
• What information was showing on the screen.
• Take off.
• Flying the drone in different directions.
• Height of the drone.
• Returning the drone to “Home Location”.

Once the instructor was happy with everyone’s competence, it was time to go it alone! Eeeekk!

The drone’s first outing was at the Cheshire Hunts Wettenhall meet on Tuesday 21st November.

It was a bit nerve-racking not having someone with you – a bit like the first time you drive a car by yourself with no instructor sat by your side.



The drone went up where it could be seen by hunt support, and it was soon radioed in by hunt staff that there was an “eye in the sky”.

It was also noted by our team that the drone was having an effect already. Coverts and woods this hunt usually spend a long time at trying to raise a fox from were only briefly visited during this meet.

What a difference our “eye in the sky” was making already!

We are incredibly grateful for this essential piece of equipment from Protect the Wild. The drone will be a huge help with assisting us to protect wildlife and to gather evidence from all angles of illegal fox hunting and exposing the smokescreen “trail hunting” hides behind. THANK YOU!! ♡”


  • If you’d like to know more about the legal use of drones please see our Protectors of the Wild page Drones and the Law



We are able to give much-needed equipment like this drone to monitors and organisations because of paid subscriptions on our Substack. While all our online content is free, any money we do receive from paid subscriptions is ringfenced and used to put ‘eyes in the field’. It’s a simple idea – but the best ideas usually are! If you’d like to know more we have explained it all in our post “What do we mean by “Empowering people to protect British wildlife“?

With your support we will be giving out many more pieces of equipment to groups over the coming months and years. And we will always keep you up to date with how your support is directly helping wildlife!

If you’re an individual or organisation working in the field and would like to apply to our fund please read our T&Cs here first and use the online application form on the same page. We’d love to hear from you.