Yorkshire Wildlife Trust asks Derwent Hunt to 'respect our boundaries' after hounds enter nature reserve

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has asked a local hunt to ‘respect boundaries’ after hounds were filmed on a nature reserve owned by the charity.

The YWT was forced to respond after campaign group Protect the Wild shared video footage online of hounds and a huntsman entering Chafer Wood in Ebberston, near Scarborough, last month.

There is public access to the reserve land, but rules state that dogs must be kept on leads and there is no bridleway for use by horses. Hunting is banned at all of the Trust’s sites.

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The charity released a statement on Friday, and confirmed they had spoken to the Derwent Hunt, which meets nearby, about its members entering the area.

Chafer Wood nature reserve, near ScarboroughChafer Wood nature reserve, near Scarborough
Chafer Wood nature reserve, near Scarborough

The statement read: “We do not allow hunting on our nature reserves, and we do not give permission for hunting of any type on our land; this includes trapping, hunting on foot or horseback, with or without dogs. This also means we do not allow deliberate or incidental access to our land for anyone engaged in these activities.

"In the exceptional circumstances where other people own or control the access or hunting rights to land that we own or manage, they have a legal right to carry out these activities. Some trail hunts cross our land on public rights of way.

"As a conservation charity, we work to preserve scarce or threatened habitats, to manage safe places expressly for wildlife. Our reserves are places we cherish, care for and open for peaceful public enjoyment. We also work to achieve as much wildlife conservation benefit as we can in every different situation.

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"We will continue to raise concerns and oppose aspects of hunting in the wider countryside where there is a damaging impact on the conservation of wild plants and animal populations, or fragile habitats. For example, we supported proposals to phase out the use of lead ammunition in shooting.

"We condemn all illegal activity, whether on our land or not, and would urge anyone with evidence of illegal activity including wildlife crime to contact local police as soon as possible. As a charity, we work closely with statutory agencies including the police and will always share what we know, and provide expert advice on the ground. However, we do not have investigatory powers, and therefore are unable to take direct enforcement action on reports of illegal activity.

"We have previously contacted the hunt master associated with the Chafer Wood trespass to urge members of the hunt to stop entering our land, and are disappointed to see that despite this, another incident has occurred.

"We will be making direct contact with the hunt concerned to express our concern and to seek agreement for our boundaries to be respected in future.”