Hunting lobbyists desperately claims “we will not give up” as hunting ban looms

The British Hound Sports Association (BHSA), the hunting industry’s cheerleader and supposed regulatory body, has cried “WE WILL NOT GIVE UP” in a last desperate bid to save hunting.

Labour is set to win the next election, and has stated in its manifesto that if elected it will ban trail hunting. It is common knowledge that since the Hunting Act came into force in 2005, hunts across the country have claimed to be following pre-laid scent trails – i.e. trail hunting – rather than deliberately hunting wild mammals. This is nothing but a lie. In fact, the trail hunting loophole was deliberately brought into the Hunting Act by Tony Blair. The then-prime minister even made a bet with then-Prince Charles, pledging that hunting would still continue after the Act came into force. Trail hunting has already been made illegal in Scotland.


The BHSA, a lobby group set up to be hunting’s ‘acceptable face’, is showing its desperation this year as it becomes increasingly apparent that hunting in England and Wales is doomed. Last year it pleaded for money in a video to keep hunting alive featuring a rogues’ gallery of hunt masters and staff asking viewers to sign up as members. In April this year, when it assumed that the General Election would be in November, it rushed out details of its “Autumn Campaign” (which is not to be confused with ‘autumn hunting’ or ‘cubbing’ – where hunts train hounds to kill by letting them loose on fox cubs).

This was, essentially, a PR campaign to demonstrate to the world – and particularly Labour candidates who might one day be able to make changes to the law in Parliament – that ‘trail hunting’ is harmless and legal. No longer was the hunting industry campaigning for the Hunting Act to be overturned – something so politically toxic even the Tories know better than to bring it up any more (for repeal look to Reform and ‘man of the people’ Nigel Farage). No, it knew that its best tactic was to try to convince Labour not to touch the Hunting Act at all. Left as it is, hunters can continue to terrorise animals as if the legislation didn’t exist.

Labour was not fooled, and stated in its manifesto, published last week, that: “We will ban trail hunting.”


‘A mean and vindictive assault’

On the same day that Labour’s manifesto was published, the BHSA threw their toys out of the pram. On 13 June, it wailed:

“Labour have stated their position – a ban on trail hunting.

The British Hound Sports Association’s position is very simple – WE WILL NOT GIVE UP.

We will stand up for our hounds.

We will stand up for trail hunting.

We will stand up for the rural communities that benefit so much from it.

We will use all available means to show that what the Labour Party proposes is a mean and vindictive assault on the countryside in general and on hounds in particular.

We will challenge those with such narrow minds to spend time learning about hounds and the communities that surround them.

Mass protest

The BHSA continued:

“We must all join together now and demonstrate to Parliament, the police, the public and the press that trail hunting is a legal, well regulated and entirely benign sport that does not need state interference. Show your support for hounds and for trail hunting on September 14th, the National Trail Hunting Day.

Exact details of the over 30 venues will be available soon on our website.”

The BHSA has mentioned this national day of action before and has stated that it will involve a number of hunts demonstrating how to lay a trail.

Meanwhile, Shropshire Monitors recently published what appears to be an internal BHSA statement about the protest. In it the hunting lobbyists stated:

“The day will be as important as the Countryside March. Except we won’t be asking you to come to London but to come to a venue near you.

Tellingly the BHSA is intent on exploiting children and dogs to pull the heartstrings of the public, and convince us all that hunting is cuddly, cute fun. The organisation said:

We want Beagles and Harriers to attend. Pictures of children and Beagles make the front page.

In organising the protest, the BHSA’s aim is to:

show that the BHSA as a regulator is effective. If we fail the result will be that the incoming Government, the civil servants at DEFRA, and the Police will claim we lack discipline and authority. As a result, they will lobby MPs, probably effectively, for statutory licensing. We will have lost.”


The BHSA was set up in 2022 to replace the discredited Hunting Office following the leaked ‘smokescreen webinars’, but it was a rebrand, a moving of the deckchairs, which included figures that have been prominent in the hunting industry for years – including William Astor, a viscount and member of the House of Lords, and former Master and Chairman of the Old Berkshire Hunt.

Andrew Osborne, Chairperson of the MFHA, stated at the time that the restructure was “incredibly important in successfully correcting the perception of hunting”. That would be the ‘perception’ of illegality and deliberate lawbreaking that following literally hundreds of reports of assaults, aggression, and illegal hunting it has brought squarely upon itself (see our ‘Hunting: A Case for Change Report’ for details).

Of course, the BHSA fooled no one. As we have seen from the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale incident – where the hunt made Channel 4 News headlines when it tore up a fox – the BHSA has zero intention of actually regulating its own. It suspended the hunt for three weeks before reinstating it – a token and trivial gesture to try to fool the public that it was doing something about illegal hunting when really it was doing nothing.

As Protect the Wild has pointed out repeatedly, the BHSA is culpable for the deaths of all of the foxes killed on its watch. It not only enables hunts to continue killing as usual – it actually emboldens them.



Election day is on 4 July, and Labour – which is set to for a large Parliamentary majority – has made some surprisingly strong statements in support of animal welfare: including banning trail hunting (though it hasn’t provided details when), as well as outlawing the use of snares by the shooting industry (thousands of foxes are killed on shooting estates every year). It has also stated that the badger cull is ineffective (ie doesn’t work to control the spread of Bovine TB) so lawfully will be unable to issue new cull licences: Section 10 (2) of the Badger Act 1992 says licences to kill or take badgers can only be issued for disease control – if culling doesn’t work, ergo no licences can be issued.
  • And so as the BHSA struggles to breathe its last breaths, it is unlikely that Labour will be convinced by the desperate PR stunt that will take place on 14 September. But we mustn’t be complacent. If Labour does get into power, we all have a responsibility to ensure that it keeps its pledges and ends hunting once and for all.