A DEVON FARMER has been told by DEFRA that he can use his dogs to chase wild mammals off his land without breaking the Hunting Act, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Giles Bradshaw from South Molton, Devon, contacted DEFRA to establish whether using his four collies to chase deer from his land amounted to hunting.

Mr Bradshaw was concerned that if he could not use his dogs he would be required to buy a high powered rifle, something he did not wish to do.

But in a written reply, DEFRA told Mr Bradshaw that his actions amounted to ‘chasing away unwanted animals away from your land‘.

“You are not in fact, hunting as described in the Hunting Act 2004. Therefore you are not committing an offence,” he was told.

Mr Bradshaw has now replied to the DEFRA official with whom he has been corresponding to ask whether he can grant his local hunt permission to come and chase animals from his land.

“If I can chase animals, I can get the local hunt to come and do it for me as far as I can see,” said Mr Bradshaw.

In reply DEFRA has invited him to seek the advice of his solicitor.

Lembit Öpik, the Liberal Democrat MP and member of the middle way group of MPs, told the paper that hunting with dogs and ‘flushing‘ were not defined in the Hunting Act. 

“Now DEFRA has also invented a completely new category of hunting – ‘chasing away‘ – which isn‘t even covered by the Act.”

Mr Opik added how were the police meant to distinguish between illegal hunting, drag hunting, unintentional hunting, a hunt exercising hounds or simply chasing away.

But DEFRA told the paper that hunting required an intention on the part of the person rather than a dog and therefore it was not possible to commit ‘accidental hunting‘.