In the UK, a legally enforceable code of conduct strictly regulating the use of dogs underground has been published.
The Code, drawn-up by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and approved by Defra, has effect as part of the Hunting Act which came into force today.
Under the "gamekeeper's exemption" in the Act, a single dog can be used below ground to flush out a wild mammal if this is to protect birds for the purpose of their being shot. This is to allow pest control necessary for shooting to continue unaffected by the Hunting Act.
The strict conditions in the exemption and the Code are designed to prevent abuse and to protect the welfare of the wild mammal and the dog. Failure to abide by the Code is a criminal offence and can lead to a fine of up to £5,000. It may also result in disciplinary action or expulsion by organisations endorsing the Code.
The Code, produced following a consultation with shooting groups and animal welfare organisations, is supported by a Good Practice Guide prepared by BASC.
- For more on the Code (PDF) >> Click here (PDF, 9-pages)
- For Questions & Answers from Defra >> Click here
Some bits and piece from the Code:
- "The terrier's role must be to locate the wild mammal underground and cause it to ‘bolt’ (leave the earth or den) as soon as possible so that it can be shot by a competent person and humanely dispatched. It should not be intended that a terrier will fight the wild mammal. "
- "Only terriers that are ‘soft’ (those that habitually stand off and bark at the wild mammal) must be used. Terriers that are ‘hard’ (those that habitually fight) must not be used. "
- "The terrier being used must always be fitted with an electronic locator so that its exact position underground can be tracked. "
- "There are circumstances where, by virtue of public safety, avoidance of risk to other wildlife and practicality, it is preferable to use an experienced terrier to locate a fox in its earth and enable it to be killed humanely. "