No. Fox hunting is illegal and the National Park is no exception.
Hunting was banned in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004. This law does allow what is known as trail hunting to continue. This activity involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.
We do licence trail hunting in some areas and at certain times of the year as it is part of our cultural heritage.
Anybody who uses our land must comply with the law.
There are approximately twelve fell packs operating with the permission of landowners in various parts of Cumbria. Prior to 2004, these fell packs were generally engaged in fox hunting, but since the Hunting Act 2004, which bans the hunting of foxes, their activity is restricted to the exercising of hounds, trail-following or drag hunting.
Following our UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, the Lake District National Park continues to support and uphold the rich traditions and customs of the area.
In respect of trail hunting, we issue licences for activities taking place on common land owned by the Lake District National Park Authority.
The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) does not have any overall power or responsibility to manage this activity on land owned by others in the National Park.
Several fell packs have traditionally used areas of Common Land that is now owned by the LDNPA (amounting to about 4 per cent of land in the National Park) and this use has continued under licence from us. We issue licences for a wide variety of activities on our land and those issued to the fell packs are designed to enable them to maintain their traditional activity within the law, whilst minimising inconvenience to other users of the land.
The need to act within the law is stressed in the licence which requires organisers to submit records of all activity on our land. Whilst contraventions of the law are a police issue, and it is they who must handle allegations of illegality, we are clear that we reserve the right to withdraw licences, or take other appropriate action, if there is robust evidence of a breach of the law.
The licensed trail hunt is responsible, under the conditions of the licence, for the behaviour of the hounds and followers associated with it. This means that bad behaviour from followers or hounds will affect our decision as to whether to licence, or continue to licence, a trail hunt. Terrier men have no place in a trail hunt and are explicitly prohibited under our licence conditions.
We continually seek to keep the activities of the fell packs under review and the activities taking place which are permitted under them. We also maintain a constructive relationship with the police, other landowners, the fell packs and other legitimate stakeholders. We meet regularly with representatives of the fell packs operating on our land as well as representatives from other interest groups. If any incidents are reported to us, we investigate these directly with the fell pack concerned. We are founder members of a Liaison Forum which meets with the aim of sharing experience and harmonising the requirements placed on the various fell packs.
We currently licence four fell packs: Blencathra Foxhounds, North Lonsdale Foxhounds, Ullswater Foxhounds and Cumberland Foxhounds.
One of these licences is currently suspended pending further investigation of reports received from the general public. We operate an open dialogue with all parties and interest groups and take steps to ensure our licence conditions reflect the feedback and views we receive.
The ceremonial meets that take place on some of our land on dates including Boxing Day and New Year’s Day do so under the same strict conditions of the trail hunting licence. Where the fell packs meet in a public place this will be a matter for the local town or parish councils or for those private individual landowners concerned.
There is a licence obligation to fill in a daily record sheet for each outing, which has details of some of the mechanics of the activity and in particular records any incidents. These are to be submitted at the end of the year as a batch, but the licence also requires us to be notified within 24 hours of any incident.
We have new arrangements for LDNPA staff to attend outings in order to satisfy ourselves that each fell pack is operating within the terms of the licence; this includes scent sampling. Whenever third parties contact us with allegations of illegal or unlicensed behaviour on LDNPA land, we investigate these directly with the fell pack in question.
Our licence currently strictly prohibits the use of terriers, terrier boxes or the intention to use terriers and the hunt must not even go prepared to do so. Any such action of this nature would be considered a breach of the licence.
If anyone witnesses anything that they suspect to be illegal, we advise them to contact the police directly, in addition to reporting the incident to our staff. We are not able to provide updates on confidential investigations in any correspondence. In addition we will monitor our National Park social media channels for inappropriate content which will be dealt with in accordance with our social media house rules. We will report incidents of vandalism and intimidation on our property to the police.
We take any reports of unlicensed trail hunting on our land very seriously and we seek urgent clarification from the relevant groups.
Groups understand that they need to apply for a licence if they wish to use LDNPA land. The majority of groups are responsible and recognise the importance of working with us to ensure this lawful activity takes place in a safe way, within the national park.
Given the level of activity and the resources that we have available to deal with licencing of trail hunting on our land we will be reviewing our policy position at the end of the 2019/2020 season.
Page last updated on 20 December 2019