29 November 2001
Protocols have been drawn up by the Master of Foxhounds Association as hunts prepare to restart
The MFHA has issued a final draft of its conditions and guidance for hunting to all its members. The instructions, which have been endorsed by the NFU, are expected to be ratified by DEFRA later this week.
Hunts must not recommence hunting in any area until every farmer over whose land hunting is intended to take place hasbeen contacted and permission to hunt obtained. This need not be in writing, but must be comprehensive. Buffer zones must be built into all meet plans to ensure that hunts take into account farmers’ wishes.
Hunts must be aware of any Form A and D premises in their where hunting is planned. (Local DEFRA offices should have this information).
The following must be informed at any start date and ensuing fixtures; the local DEFRA office; the NFU regional office; the police; British Rail; National Trust, Forestry Commission and MoD; woodland and wildlife trusts; other holders of public land (contact all relevant landowners).
A low-key start is imperative. Hunting should be conducted at the “master’s prerogative” (ie as for autumn hunting) to meet the following criteria:
a) the control and management of the fox population;
b) the introduction of young hounds into the pack;
c) the fitness of hounds and horses (ie length of hunting days);
d) exploration of the changes in farming patterns since the cessation of hunting.
Low-key hunting should be conducted until the criteria outlined above have been met. During this time, dress should be based on “ratcatcher” style andmeets may be held earlier in the day.
Boxing Day meets should be an exception, when usual dress, time and location should apply.
Mounted participants: individuals may only hunt if they live in an FMD-free county and their horses are stabled within the boundaries of the hunt country or adjacent FMD-free counties.
Visitors, who must qualify as above, remain at the discretion of the masters.
Hunts should strongly discourage car and foot followers who arenot resident in FMD-free counties.
Saboteurs: those hunts susceptible to saboteur interference should prepare arrangements with the local police.