Trail Hunting on Land Owned by Exmoor National Park Authority

The Hunting Act 2004 made it illegal to hunt wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales.

The practice of people on foot or horseback using dogs to follow a scent along a predetermined route is known as ‘trail hunting’. This practice does not involve the chasing or killing of wild animals and is legal.

The 1949 Act of Parliament that created National Parks did so for everyone’s enjoyment and we are always looking for ways to help more people enjoy them responsibly.

They gave National Park Authorities two purposes: i) to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the national parks and ii) to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.

These two purposes underpin all of our work and the decisions we make, including those about licensing activities on our land. Trail hunting comes under this category and provides a legal alternative for those who wish to participate in a traditional country activity. While we appreciate this approach won’t satisfy everyone, we stand by people’s right to enjoy the national park sustainably in their own way.

Exmoor National Park Authority allows one local pack of hounds (the Exmoor Foxhounds) to trail hunt on land which it owns within the National Park. Permission is given by way of an annual licence. Through this we require the highest environmental standards and reserve the right to modify or terminate the agreement if there are any signs of unacceptable damage, particularly in relation to sites designated for nature conservation or cultural heritage.

We further require that all licenced activities on our land are respectful of others’ rights to personal enjoyment and access to the national park. The same applies whether for a public event, the use of a drone, or any other licenced activity on our land.

Exmoor National Park Authority is not responsible for enforcing the hunting ban on Exmoor and anyone who suspects that hunting is taking place illegally, or is witness to unacceptable intimidating behaviour, should report it to the police.

More information

Frequently asked questions about hunting on Exmoor can be found here.

Our licence requires the dates and locations for any trail hunting on Exmoor National Park Authority land to be provided with a minimum of one weeks’ notice.