Trail hunting in the nation’s forests

The Hunting Act 2004 banned hunting with dogs in England. Trail hunting was widely promoted as an alternative activity before the Hunting Act and is still legal.

Some hunting groups use forests we manage to trail hunt. We control trail hunting with permissions and licences according to an agreement with the Masters of Fox Hounds Association (MFHA).

In 2020 Forestry England suspended all licences for trail hunting in the nation’s forests in response to confirmation that the police are investigating webinars hosted by the Hunting Office. A trial is due to take place in September 2021.

In August 2021 Forestry England’s board agreed to maintain the current suspension on the granting of licences and this will continue pending the outcome of the trial and any appeals.

Clean boot, or bloodhound, hunts may continue under the Masters of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association (MDBA) permission. A clean boot hunt uses bloodhounds, rather than foxhounds, to follow human scent rather than animal scent.

Suspected illegal activity

We sometimes get concerns from visitors that people in forests we manage may be breaking the law.

If you believe illegal activity is taking place on land we manage, you need to give evidence to your local Forestry England office. Please make sure it is clear and credible enough for us to look into. We will pass on any evidence to the police.