It’s not surprising people get confused.

Hunting with dogs was banned in England and Wales by the Hunting Act 2004... but hunting with dogs continues today. People think that hunts now hunt within the law because they have converted to drag hunting…but none of the hunts converted to drag hunting.

Trail hunts claim they now “hunt” artificial scents rather than live animals…but they don’t lay any trails with artificial scents. Hunts may show off the “drag” they use to lay the trail, and claim they use fox urine in it…but there may not be any scent in it. Hunts tell you their trail hunting is legal by showing you the fox urine they claim to use…but this urine may be illegally imported or produced.

Can you see a theme emerging here? Lies, lies and more lies. One thing we know hunts certainly do is spread lies to confuse the public and the authorities, so they can get away with illegal hunting as they have never accepted the hunting ban. This was first exposed by IFAW with the 200 page report I produced in 2015 called “Trail of Lies”.

But let me expose these lies again:


Lie number one: trail hunting

The Hunting Act banned hunting wild mammals with dogs but most fox hunts and hare hunts found a way around the ban. They invented “trail hunting”. “Drag hunting”, in which hounds follow an artificial non-animal scent laid with a “drag” in areas unlikely to have foxes, with the full knowledge of those controlling the hounds, already existed. But when the Act was passed the hunts did not convert to it. Instead they invented “trail hunting” in which they use animal-based scents, they lay the trail in areas likely to have foxes or hares, and those controlling the hounds are not told where the trail is. The result? In drag hunting no animals are chased, and in trail hunting the hounds end up chasing real animals while those controlling them can claim that it was all just “an accident”. Drag hunting and trail hunting are different things. Drag hunting is a genuine sport, trail hunting is a cover for illegal hunting.


Lie number two: no trail

If you actually go and watch a hunt that claims to go trail hunting, you will be amazed when you realise that they don’t lay any trail. They say they do, but if nobody is looking, they just don’t. How do we know this? Having looked at over 4,000 hunt monitoring reports produced by more than 30 hunt monitors from different organisations covering the majority of hunts in England and Wales, since the Act was enacted these monitors have reported witnessing someone laying a possible trail only in an average of around 3% of the occasions they monitored hunts.


Lie number three: no scent

When you ask the same hunt monitors if they believe that on those very few occasions they saw someone laying a trail, whether the drag actually contained any scent, most say they don’t. They believed that only on an average of around 0.04% of the occasions they may have witnessed a genuine trail hunting event, rather than a fake one. How do they know? Just by watching the behaviour of the hounds completely ignoring the trail.


Lie number four: illegal animal by-products

This issue has been recently been exposed in the League’s new report about the negative conservation implications of hunting. When hunts are pressed to show evidence of laying scents, they say they mainly use fox urine. But where do they get it from? Either they import it, they buy it in the UK, or they produce it themselves. But if that is true, considering that fox urine is an animal by-product, how can spreading such a product through the countryside be legal? The report shows all the regulations that would be required to import these products from the US, where some hunts claim they get it from. These imports may be illegal as hunts are unlikely to have acquired the appropriate permits.

Regarding hunts obtaining fox urine in the UK, there are also regulations that cover this. To get the urine from live foxes they would have to be held captive, and as such they would then become protected animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and need a special licence. But perhaps there is another possible explanation about why the hunts that use fox urine don’t have all the necessary documentation and permits to use it…that it is all a lie and they don’t really use it at all.

Something doesn’t smell right, does it?

Parliament banned hunting, but the hunting fraternity responded with lies. Let’s ban the liars and awaken those who still believe them.