Trail Hunting Policy
The Estate owes the retention of hedges and much of its woodland and copses to the ancient tradition of fox-hunting. Charlie Burrell’s grandparents, the late Sir Walter and Lady Burrell, were Masters of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt. Throughout the farming revolution, when 75,000 miles of hedges were being pulled up, they refused to grub theirs out. The average farm field size on Knepp remained a little under 10 acres (tiny by modern standards), all bordered by hedges to provide challenging jumps for the Hunt. This certainly benefited wildlife at the time and has contributed to the success of our rewilding project by providing a refuge for birds, flora and invertebrates which can then colonise the wider landscape.
Since the 2004 Hunting Act, which banned the pursuit of foxes with hounds, the Crawley and Horsham Hunt has, like other hunts, adopted Trail Hunting instead. We continue to support this activity and to hold the Opening Meet at Knepp, continuing a tradition which brings the local community of all ages together for a challenging day of riding in open countryside.
The Knepp Estate would like to make categorically clear that it never has, and never would, allow illegal fox hunting to take place on its land.
We don’t control foxes by shooting them. Foxes are free to live out their lives and protect their territories on Knepp without hindrance. We aim to demonstrate that, having a sedentary, secure fox population within the rewilding project, keeps the numbers in balance. Vixens mature later and have fewer cubs, and dog foxes prevent other challengers from entering their territory. This has a positive effect on prey species such as small mammals, ground-nesting birds and water-fowl.