Hunting with hounds

If you see or suspect illegal hunting is taking place in Cheshire, please report it to the police, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously using their online form or by calling 0800 555 111.

It may help us if you can answer any of the questions when making a report:

  • Is/are the suspect/s alone or in a group?
  • Are they trespassing?
  • Do they have equipment with them?
  • Do they have dogs or firearms with them?
  • Where are they going?
  • Where have they been?
  • What do they look like?
  • Are there any vehicles involved? If so, what are the number plates and vehicle models?
  • Can you safely get a photograph/film?

Our role

It is not a matter for us to determine what is or is not hunting, this can only be determined in court.

Our role is to investigate alleged or apparent breaches of the Hunting Act 2004, and other legislation, to gather evidence, and to pass that evidence to the appropriate authority.

Read more about the Constabulary's operational stance.

 

Hunting and the law

The Hunting Act 2004 controls the hunting of wild mammals with dogs and prohibited hare coursing in England and Wales.

Hunting includes any cases where:

  • a person engages or participates in the pursuit of a wild mammal, and
  • one or more dogs are employed in that pursuit (whether or not by him/her and whether or not under his/her control or direction)

A person is committing an offence if they knowingly:

  • permit land to be entered or used in the act of hunting
  • hunt mammals (including foxes) with dogs

The following penalties can be applied:

  • You can be fined up to £5,000 if you’re found guilty of illegal hunting
  • The court can take away the dogs and hunting equipment you used when the law was broken
  • It’s against the law for you to allow others to use your land for illegal hunting

Land owners whose land is used against their will, or people - including those involved in drag hunting, whose dogs chase and kill a fox against their wishes - will not be guilty of a crime.

Exemptions

There are exemptions to the ban on hunting, primarily to protect damage to livestock, game and wild birds, growing timber, fisheries and other property. These exemptions allow the shooting of wild mammals (not just foxes) if certain conditions defined in the Hunting Act 2004 have been met.

In terms of hunting, dogs can be legally used to:

  • conduct 'trail hunting' or 'drag hunting' (the use of an artificial scent)
  • exercise hounds with landowners consent
  • conduct 'flushing' - two hounds can be used to flush the fox from cover so it can be shot dead by a 'competent' person or flush to a bird of prey.