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Legislation on hunting with dogs

  (Redirected from Fox hunting legislation)

Legislation on hunting with dogs is in place in many countries around the world. Legislation may regulate, or in some cases prohibit the use of dogs to hunt or flush wild animal species.


The use of scenthounds to track prey dates back to Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian times and in England, hunting with Agassaei hounds was popular before the Romans.[1] In more modern times, hunting regulation has been encouraged by the animal welfare and animal rights movements out of concern for wildlife management and alleged cruelty.


Hunting is legal in France.


Hunting with hounds was banned in Germany by Adolf Hitler's government in 1934, before which hunting laws varied from state to state. Hounds were used to pursue deer, wild boar, hares and foxes.

Hermann Göring had a passion for shooting game and appointed himself Hunting Master of the Reich (Reichsjaegermeister) soon after the Nazis gained power in 1933. He decided that more order was needed and introduced sweeping legislative changes which were enforced throughout the Reich. The Hunting Law (Reichsjagdgesetz) of 1934 was closely modelled on the Prussian "Tier- und Pflanzenschutzverordnung" of 16 December 1929.

Hitler's cabinet was told about the hunting regulation at a meeting on July 3, 1934 - the same day that Hitler reported on the purging of the Sturmabteilung leadership in the Night of the Long Knives, according to an official Nazi biography published four years later. Hitler was a self-declared vegetarian and hated hunting (see Adolf Hitler and vegetarianism).

The ban on hunting with hounds was unpopular with the aristocracy, many of whom hunted with hounds on horseback. Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941), the grandson of Queen Victoria, who was a keen hunter of wild boar, was powerless to stop the changes as he had abdicated and fled the country in 1918. The remaining upper classes were unable to oppose the totalitarian regime. The Nazi-era ban on hunting with hounds was passed and remains in force to this day.

Shooting game remained legal though regulated. The Act included a promise of laws that were designed to give the shooting fraternity a privileged position in the new Reich. The idea was to give every (shooting) hunter his own personal shoot after "the Third Reich's glorious victory over Europe".

United KingdomEdit

England and WalesEdit

Hunting of wild mammals in the traditional style is banned by the Hunting Act 2004. Earlier acts, such as the Protection of Animals Act 1911, the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 contained specific exemptions for hunting activities.


In February 2002 the Scottish Parliament voted by eighty three to thirty six to pass legislation to ban hunting with hounds. MSPs decided not to give compensation to those whose livelihoods or businesses might suffer as a result of the ban. The Act came into effect on August 1, 2002. An article in the Guardian on 9 September 2004 reports that of the ten Scottish hunts, nine survived the ban, using the permitted exemption allowing them to use packs of hounds to flush foxes to guns.

A number of convictions have taken place under the Act, two for people hunting foxes and ten for hare coursing. The only prosecution of a traditional mounted hunt led to a not guilty verdict, but to a clarification of the law, with the sheriff saying that the activity of flushing foxes to guns "will require to be accompanied by realistic and one would expect, effective arrangements for the shooting of pest species. The use of what might be termed "token guns" or what was described by the Crown as paying lip service to the legislation is not available ... as a justification for the continuation of what was referred to in the evidence before me as traditional foxhunting." [1]

Currently fox hunting takes place in Scotland as described in the Scotsman's article. There are eleven hunts in Scotland where the rules are more relaxed.[2] The continuation of the stricter laws in England and Wales has been guaranteed by the Scottish National Party.[3] There is currently no planned legislation to tighten the rules on the Scottish hunts giving the Scottish industry the advantage. [4][5]

Northern IrelandEdit

Fox hunting in Northern Ireland would have been banned had the Foster Bill become law. However, by the time of subsequent hunting legislation in the House of Commons, the Northern Ireland Assembly had been established and the hunting issue had been devolved to that body. A Hunting Bill was introduced into the Northern Ireland Assembly but rejected in December 2010.

United StatesEdit

In the United States federal system, the agency primarily responsible for wildlife management is the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, a division of the United States Department of the Interior, a cabinet-level division, whose director reports directly to the president. Within these federal guidelines, most hunting regulation for non-migratory species rests within wildlife or agricultural departments at the state level. With fifty different states, this lends itself to a wide variety of diversity, especially for an activity such as fox hunting. Much more common than organised fox hunting is the hunting (usually by private individuals) of raccoons (Ursus lotor) with coonhounds, and where such hunting is practised, the two are often regulated similarly due to the method (which involves tracking or active pursuit by dogs).

The red fox is protected in every state in which it is present (all except Hawaii), in contrast to its status as vermin in the UK. It is variously classified as a furbearer, small game or predator in state hunting and trapping regulations. The open and closed hunting seasons for fox (both red and gray) also vary by state. Pursuit of red fox while in possession of a firearm requires a hunting license (or in some cases a trapping license) in all states, and is generally restricted to a specific season (typically the winter months). In some states (such as Florida) it is illegal to chase fox with dogs while in possession of a firearm, although it is legal to chase them otherwise.

In some western states the coyote is an unprotected species, and there are no restrictions on the methods used in hunting them. In these areas Hunt Clubs often pursue coyote instead of fox.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Aslam, D (18 February 2005). "Ten things you didn't know about hunting with hounds". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2007.
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