Hare Hunting on Grouse Moors

The Ecclesfield Beagles at Thornseat in Oct 2020

Some background:

Along with grouse shooting, estate owners allow hare hunts onto the moors each year. Packs of hunting hounds are very clearly detrimental to local hare populations and the sensitive SSSI habitat – not to mention illegal. Facilitating organised activities in this environment, including hunting or “trail hunting”, requires explicit prior permission from Natural England – but this is rarely sought by bloodsports enthusiasts. Please help us to challenge such breaches – and thereby help protect wildlife and habitat.

The law:

The Case of Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland:

In October 2020, the Ecclesfield Beagles were allowed to hunt on Bradfield Moors SSSI near Sheffield. The landowner is Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland. Natural England had not given permission for the hunting.

By no coincidence, Philip Naylor-Leyland is also the owner of Castor Hanglands SSSI near Peterborough. He also owns the Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt, which was reported to Natural England in 2018 for the same alleged offence – hunting without permission on fragile habitat.

Consequently, this landowner has apparently carried out or permitted “specified operations likely to damage” at two separate SSSI sites. This would constitute “intentional non-compliance” and the normal penalty is a reduction of 20% of annual Agri-Environment payments, which amounts to £30,000.

This is far from the first time Mr Naylor-Leyland’s bloodsports interests have caused controversy. In 2018, he sought an injunction against hunt sabs at the Fitzwilliam fox hunt in south east England. In 2019, he upset residents in a Welsh community with his efforts to obtain a local bluebell wood for pheasant shooting in Denbighshire. For many years, there have been calls for him to remove an unlawful shooting track on his grouse moor in Derbyshire.

We urge the public to contact Natural England about the most recent issue of unpermitted hunting on an SSSI – and to enforce any relevant compliance measures. A sample letter is included below along with contact details. Please do let us know any response you receive.

Please also report and document any hunting you see on our moorland!

Take Action – Letter to Natural England

  • Please email: ProtectedSites@naturalengland.org.uk

Re: Illegal Hare hunting Fitzwilliam Estate Bradfield Moors
NE Ref 0211201154LA
Bradfield Moors Agri Scheme AG00414069

I am writing to request Natural England takes Cross Compliance Enforcement action
against the owner of Bradfield Moors. On Saturday 24th October 2020, witnesses
reported a pack of 20+ dogs and a number of people on foot hunting at Thornseat
cabins (grid ref SK228 928). The huntsmen were later identified as from the Ecclesfield Beagles. This is an organised activity and is listed as “an operation likely to damage the SSSI protected site”. Natural England has confirmed no consent was given,
therefore this is a breach of Cross Compliance Regulations 2020 paragraph GAEC
7d (SSSI).

Further, the owner of Bradfield Moors is also the owner of Castor Hanglands SSSI
near Peterborough and the Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt. The hunt was reported to Natural England on 24th January 2018, as having engaged in hunting activities on Castor Hanglands SSSI. Therefore this landowner has allegedly carried out/permitted “specified operations likely to damage” two separate SSSI sites. This constitutes “intentional non-compliance” and the normal penalty is a reduction of 20% of annual Agri-Environment payments, which amounts to £30,000.

In assessing the seriousness of this case, I draw your attention to the Hunt Office
webinars published on ITV and also here: https://www.huntsabs.org.uk/mass-
criminality-in-hunting-community-revealed-through-leaked-webinars/. These webinars describe the tactics and claims used by Hunts to evade prosecution.
The Master of Foxhounds Association describes how it’s routine to deny hunting
activity by claiming “hound exercise, that goes without question”. And when Hunt
Monitors arrived at Bradfield Moors, the Beagle pack stopped hunting immediately
(which again is recommended in the webinar). If the Beagles were engaged in trail
hunting or exercise they would have continued. National Trust, Forestry England and
United Utilities have stopped “trail” hunts on their land after reviewing these

The Cross Compliance scheme exists to ensure best practice and to reassure the
public that taxpayers’ money is spent appropriately. It will be a betrayal of public trust
if you fail to undertake enforcement action.

Yours sincerely

Your name

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