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 were investigating webinars hosted by the Hunting Office.

Forestry England will not be taking any new decisions about trail hunting or hound exercise or retrieval in the nation’s forests before the end of the 21/22 season and our suspension of permissions for trail hunting in the nation’s forests will remain.

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 or unauthorised trail hunting

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 police.

If you have evidence of unauthorised trail hunting in the nation’s forests we manage please let your local office have it making sure it is clear and credible enough for us to look into. Consider, does your information clearly show:

  • where it was taken?
  • when it was taken?
  • who was involved?