Not all hunting is against the law. In some cases, you may have special permissions or authorisation to hunt. Below are instances in which hunting may be legal.
Hunting with dogs
You can legally hunt with dogs in special circumstances. In these cases, you must be on your own land or have permission from the landowner.
In some cases, you must also have authority from a police constable. If unsure, please see 'Contact us'.
Hunting activities that can be legal with the use of dogs are:
preventing or reducing serious damage to livestock, crops, or wild birds, or for another protective reason
obtaining meat for human or animal consumption
to retrieve shot hares
flushing out wild mammals to allow a bird of prey to hunt it
recapturing or shooting a mammal that has escaped or been released from captivity
ending a mammal’s suffering
to observe or study the wild mammal
It's important to note that other restrictions still apply with the above activities. Please see the other sub-sections for hunting specific types of wildlife. You can also find out more about exempted hunting in the Hunting Act 2004.
When hunting with dogs is illegal
With a few exemptions, using dogs to hunt wild mammals, such as foxes, rats and rabbits, is illegal. This includes using dogs to hunt or pursue badgers, minks and otters.
Traps and snares are commonly used in hunting. For a trap or snare to be legal, it must be:
certified and designed to the correct standards for the animal you are hunting
used on your own land, or with permission from the landowner
checked regularly to prevent unnecessary suffering to the animal
You are breaking the law if you do not adhere to the above. There are restrictions on the trapping or snaring of certain animals that requires a licence from Natural England (in England) and Natural Resources Wales (in Wales).
It is important to note that laws within England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are subject to local governance and can be slightly different. If you are planning to hunt in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you should check guidelines and restrictions in these areas.