Hunt staff say they are ready to switch from identifying hounds by ear tattoos to microchipping if required to do so by law.

The issue of microchipping has been in the news after a minister hinted that the Government may make it compulsory to help encourage “responsible dog ownership“.

In response to a question in the House of Lords (8 February), environment minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach told peers a “package of measures” would be announced soon.

He suggested microchips could be “part of the strategy”.

Tim Bonner of the Hunting Office told H&H they had been monitoring moves towards compulsory microchipping in Westminster and the Welsh Assembly and were prepared if legislation was passed.

Moving from tattoo-based ear marking to microchipping hounds will not be difficult,” he said.

“There are practical advantages, as tattoos can become illegible after a few years and there is no link to a national register if a hound is lost.

“The critical issue is cost, but once hunt staff have been trained to carry out the procedure, the price of a chip will be just a few pounds,” he added.

The Labour government came out in favour of compulsory microchipping shortly before the 2010 election and the coalition has been considering whether to take it forward.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (23 February 2012)