Hunt Havoc
and farmed animals

Hunts need huge areas of land to hunt on. Legally they must follow a scent trail laid before setting off, and not go where they’re not wanted or not allowed.
Yet hunts routinely cause havoc in places they’re not welcome – on roads and railways, waterways, residential properties, churchyards, animal sanctuaries etc – and they even cause havoc in places where (we’re frequently told) they are ‘offering a service’: on farms and agricultural land.
Causing havoc where farmed animals are present.
There are numerous examples online of hunt hounds being taken across fields and chasing or injuring farmed animals.
We’ve listed some below, but remember none of this would happen if hunts followed pre-laid trails because even a hunt wouldn’t be stupid enough to lay a trail across a field with vulnerable animals in it.
But, of course, hunts aren’t really following trails…

Examples of hunt havoc and farmed animals

Significant damage can be caused by a dog simply being present in a field with farmed animals. Pregnant ewes, for example, can abort their lambs, or lambs can be separated from their mothers, causing distress and in some cases malnutrition. Calves can be separated too, and even camelids can be subjected to terrifying chases and harrying.

Reports of hounds chasing across fields go back many years. Since just 2016 there have been numerous documented and serious incidents where hunts have caused havoc on agrcultural or farmed land – many more will have gone unreported:

  • In 2016 the Irish Farmers Journal reported that ewes had aborted lambs after an attack by hunting hounds in Co Down.
  • In 2018 The Ferret published “Covert footage accuses fox hunts of sheep worrying” saying that they had obtained undercover footage showing Scottish hunts riding with pack of hounds through the countryside, sending flocks of sheep fleeing.
  • In December 2018 the Meynell & South Staffordshire Hunt allowed one of their hounds to savage an Alpaca so severely the animal had to be euthanised.
  • In March 2019 Nottingham Hunt Sabs recorded hounds from the Meynell and South Staffs Hunt (again) rampage through a field scattering sheep and mauling a lamb.
  • In November 2020 Nottingham Hunt Sabs recorded hounds from the High Peak Harriers chasing a calf through several fields and forcing it to jump over dry stone walls in fear for its life.
  • In January 2021 Hexham News carried a report “Tynedale Hunt apologies after hounds panic alpacas” which quoted a local farmer saying that hounds from a local hunt had terrorised the animals “three times in the last 18 months”. 

The law needs to be changed

If a dog runs out of control and attacks other animals, the owner may be prosecuted and the dog may be put down. But in many cases involving hunting hounds, the police take no further action.
Because the law (as it has so often done in the past) has made an exception for hunts!

Here’s what the ‘Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953‘ (an Act to “provide for the punishment of persons whose dogs worry livestock on agricultural land”) says:

  • Subject to the provisions of this section, if a dog attacks or worries livestock on any agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and, if it is in the charge of a person other than its owner, that person also, shall be guilty of an offence .
  1. For the purposes of this Act worrying livestock means:
  2. chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce. or
  3. being at large (that is to say not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

But, this does not apply:

  • in relation to—
  1.  a dog owned by, or in the charge of, the occupier of the field or enclosure or the owner of the sheep or a person authorised by either of those persons; or
  2. a police dog, a guide dog or other assistance dog, trained sheep dog, a working gun dog or a dog lawfully used to hunt, but only if and to the extent that the dog is performing the role in question.

So while you or I might be charged with an offence if a family pet attacks sheep (and other livestock), a hunt can – and usually will – get away with it”!

Note that according to the Crown Prosecution Service ‘livestock’ means cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses or poultry, but does not include ‘exotic’ farmed animals such as alpacas, buffalo, ostrich etc which are increasingly being kept by farmers and others.

A Proper Ban on Hunting

Why do hunts deserve special treatment? The simple answer is – they don’t.

Laws like these were written when many parliamentarians hunted. That is no longer the case, but legislation is taking far too long to catch up with changing realities and the abhorrence most people feel for hunts or anyone else that sets a pack of dogs on to wild animals.

The ‘Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is hopelessly out of date, but then so is much of the legislation favouring hunts.

To change every single piece of outdated law would take decades, which is why we have a simpler solution – a Proper Ban on Hunting which will outlaw all and any hunting with dogs. No more exemptions, no more exceptions, and no more favoured status for hunts.

And no more hounds tearing through fields while inept huntsmen fail to control them.

We must end hunt havoc

Hunting of Mammals Bill

To end hunt havoc, we must end hunting.

Wild, farmed and even companion animals are left injured, traumatised and worse by the recklessness of hunts.

The only way to prevent the injuries, trauma and deaths associated with hunt havoc is to end hunting altogether.

That’s why we want a proper ban on hunting – read more and sign our petition for a Hunting of Mammals Bill

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