This is Hunting UK is made up of a group of like-minded people from every conceivable sector of society. Our members come from a variety of persuasions but are all keen on offering the British public every opportunity to learn more about hunting with hounds from the standpoints of rural traditions and our shared history.
Fox hunting has been part of British culture since the early 1800s. This alone makes it a significant aspect of our long-cherished traditions. When we founded our organisation 18 months ago, we made a vow to bring to you the latest news and information relevant to issues affecting the hunting world.
We will be keeping you updated about shows we are set to attend. You may also take the opportunity to meet us and discuss plans for the future. It is important for everyone to know that This is Hunting UK has not been formed to rival any existing countryside organisation similar in nature. In fact, we will be working with them and are looking forward to meeting new friends in the process.
For enquiries, please get in touch with National Coordinator, Lou Berry,
via firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome and thank you likewise for any help
It could be said that foxhunting and the British countryside developed in tandem, for many of the woodlands that enhance and enrich our landscape were originally established with hunting in mind.
Most of them represent wildlife sanctuaries in areas that would otherwise be devoid of such habitat, and for local residents and visitors alike, are much loved features of a rural landscape that would appear dramatically different if they were cut down and put under the plough.
Some hunt coverts are even the final resting place of hunt supporters, for what better place to have one’s ashes scattered than amongst the birdsong and wildlife of a native English wood?
A number of coverts and woodlands are managed by hunts to this day, and several are still retained in their ownership. Two hunts that I served as master – the Sinnington in North Yorkshire and the Quorn in Leicestershire – between them still own more than 30 different coverts. Each one was planted for hunting, and is an important feature of the surrounding countryside.
These woodlands are still visited no more than half a dozen times a season by hounds, the difference being that trails are now laid for the purpose of replicating hunting as it used to be prior to the ban.
Nearly all include stands of blackthorn and hawthorn that when cut down or laid grow back vigorously to provide a diverse habitat unusually rich in fauna and flora, for whenever light is allowed to penetrate the woodland canopy the result is an explosion in growth, bird life and insects. The warm thickets also offer an inviting environment for foxes, which allowed them to be easily located on hunt days.
On Hutton common in North Yorkshire, we also used to burn off the gorse when it grew long, cold and straggly and in doing so created a perfect environment for the rare pearl bordered fritillary butterfly.
The caterpillars ate the violets that flourished the year after burning and tight, warm tendrils of young gorse provided a secure winter home for hibernation. The treasurer of Butterfly Conservation even wrote to congratulate the Sinnington Hunt “on achieving what the rest of eastern England has failed to do”.
Much to their credit, hunts have not forsaken their responsibilities towards the woodlands they own and manage in the post-ban era. The practises of covert laying and coppicing are still carried out during late winter and early spring, for without this work thorn coverts deprived of light would quickly become barren and inhospitable wastes.
If you doubt this seek out a stand of tall thorn trees and crouch down to look beneath the canopy, then contrast that view with the thick and vibrant jungle of thorns that have been recently cut back and laid.
Hunts continue to undertake this work not just in the hope of a repeal of the Hunting Act, but also to preserve a cherished and valuable wildlife habitat. Rides continue to be cut back each year too, trespassers discouraged, and boundary fences maintained to prevent damage from invading livestock. The net results are wildlife sanctuaries that are visited on a handful of occasions each year. How many nature reserves owned by nationally recognised conservation bodies can make the same claim?
In 1994, the Liberal lead Ryedale District Council in North Yorkshire agreed to contribute towards the cost of covert laying incurred by the Sinnington Hunt in recognition of the wide ranging and indisputable benefits to conservation, although economic assistance was commuted to advise only following the noisy intervention of our opponents.
Ryedale District Council may have lost their nerve at the eleventh hour, but much more importantly an independent and democratically elected council with no affiliation to hunting had endorsed the enormous contribution made by a recognised hunt to conserving valuable wildlife habitat.