A new advisory handbook on hunting post-18 February hopes to answer the most common questions among hunt followers when it is released next Monday, to coincide with the Boxing Day meets at which record-breaking attendances are anticipated.
The 45-page Hunting Handbook, produced by the Countryside Alliance (CA) for the Council of Hunting Associations (CHA), addresses issues ranging from what to do if you’re arrested to how to continue legal activities with different types of hound. It will be distributed to all hunts and a further 10,000 copies are available.
While the guide — entitled Hunting Handbook 2005: What you need to know about hunting within the law — offers little in the way of quick-fix solutions, it does bring together, in precise and legally verified detail, all the strands from discussions to date.
It says that hunts should:
- change constitutions, but not their names
- hold meets on 19 February at high-profile locations; thereafter, hunt on same days as other packs under same police authority
- avoid other charges — for instance, trespass and lack of horse passports
- notify the CHA of police approaches and enquiries
- consider “sponsor a hound” schemes for supporters
- keep the CHA informed about trail hunting tests
- continue their fallen stock collection services
- provide wildlife management service and callout to farmers using two hounds and a gun
- maintain a close relationship with local Pony Club branches
If arrested it advises that you:
- do not accept a caution from the police — it amounts to an admission of guilt
- get hold of a lawyer who is fully briefed on the Hunting Act — a regional register will soon be available
- if arrested in charge of horses or hounds, insist police know how they should be treated, housed and fed
It also explains that legal activities can be based on:
- hunting simulated scent
- hound exercise, including cross-country rides
- exemptions, including flushing with two dogs, rabbit hunting and ratting, flushing to birds of prey to enable them to hunt the wild mammal — although “given the skills and experience required for falconry, this should not be considered lightly”