Note: The N.W.T.F. Code of Conduct for Terrier Work was the first of its kind, it always has been and continues to be a guide to best practice. The Hunting Act (2004) requires adherence to a different code. This is covered under the Hunting Act section elsewhere on this site and is a legal requirement in England and Wales.

The following N.W.T.F. Code of Conduct is intended to:

  • Establish a common set of standards, which those engaged in terrier work must follow.
  • Provide our peers and others with an understanding of how properly conducted terrier work is carried out.
  • Enable our peers and others to differentiate between those responsible terrier owners who conduct themselves in a correct and proper manner and other individuals who by their actions would bring terrier work into disrepute.
  • Assist and advise the newcomer or less experienced person.
  • Improve public awareness in relation to the manner in which properly conducted terrier work is carried out.
  • Protect the reputation of terrier work by ensuring that all such activities are conducted to the highest possible standards and in accordance with the prevailing legal requirements.

The prime objective of properly conducted terrier work is to provide a pest control service which is humane, efficient and selective.

2. The conduct of those engaged in terrier work should at all times reflect the above objectives.

3. Particular care should always be taken to minimise any risk of injury to either the quarry or the terrier.


a. The terrier’s role is to locate it’s quarry underground, to bark at it continuously, to either cause it to leave the earth or alternatively to indicate where in the earth the quarry is located in order that it can be dug to and despatched.

b. The greatest risk of injury to either animal is normally at the end of a ‘dig’. This can be minimised by either digging to the quarry, removing the terrier and despatching the quarry in the hole, or by bolting the quarry into a net for subsequent removal or dispatch, or by bolting the quarry to standing Guns.

c. It is recommended, wherever possible and practical, that only one terrier is entered to ground at a time. Note: Typical exceptions would be for example if working large cairns, rock piles and similar structures with multiple entrances and exits and no clearly defined tunnel structures, or in the event of a locating equipment failure, or in order to facilitate a rescue.


4. Terrier work must always be conducted with the permission of the landowner/agent whose wishes and property should be respected at all times.


a. In addition, should a terrier be injured while terrier work is being conducted on ground where permission has not been granted, then the owner may find themselves charged with causing unnecessary suffering and/or other animal welfare related offences, the penalties for which are quite severe.

5. Quarry should at all times be treated with respect and despatched in a humane and proper manner.


a. For foxes the recommended method of despatch is either a shotgun or firearm.

6. In some locations it may not be practicable to despatch the quarry immediately. Therefore if any quarry is taken alive, transported elsewhere and subsequently despatched, due regard should always be paid to its general welfare, safety and comfort.


a. Failure to do so may lead to accusations of causing unnecessary suffering and/or other animal welfare offences.

7. Any quarry which is injured should NOT be released, but should always be despatched at the very earliest opportunity.

8. The practice of blocking off all entrance/exit holes while a terrier is below ground is actively discouraged, and in some circumstances may lead to accusations of causing unnecessary suffering and/or other animal welfare related offences.

9. Upon completion of digging operations, all excavations should be backfilled, the earth and surrounding area reinstated to as close as possible its original condition, particular attention should be paid to the safety of livestock etc. and the earth’s future use.

10. Membership of a terrier club which offers a rescue/insurance service and which is a member of the N.W.T.F. is strongly recommended.

11. The use of locator collars to assist in quickly locating the quarry and reducing any likelihood of terriers becoming trapped underground is considered essential.

12. Should it be determined that the terrier has become trapped, then immediate assistance must be rendered in order to release it.

13. Terrier work must be confined to legal quarry species only and must at all times be conducted in a proper legal manner.


a. Familiarisation with the Protection of Badgers Act (1992) and the “Five Rules for the Terrierman” are considered essential, as is the ability to recognise the signs (as outlined in the “Five Rules”) which badgers leave around an active sett. – IF IN DOUBT – KEEP YOUR TERRIERS OUT.

14. The NWTF and its member clubs reserve the right to withdraw membership from any individual or organisation deemed by the relevant committee(s) to have brought terrier work into disrepute.

15. Any individual convicted of an animal welfare, or wildlife related offence will be brought before the relevant committee(s) in accordance with (14).

16. The NWTF, its member clubs, affiliated organisations and individual members, recognise and endorse the above code of conduct, which has been approved by the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting (ISAH Ltd) and understand that this is a condition of membership.

17. The above code of conduct has been adopted by each NWTF Member Club, Scottish Hill Packs Association, Federation of Welsh Packs, Central Committee of Fell Packs, English Farmers Fox Control Association and the Masters of Minkhounds Association. It is also endorsed by the Scottish Association of Country Sports, Scottish Gamekeepers Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Masters of Foxhounds Association and the Countryside Alliance.

First Published April 1994.

Amended April 2001 (following Lord Burns Inquiry)

Amended April 2018 (following Lord Bonomy Review Stakeholders Meeting).


For information, “The Five Rules for the Terrierman” as referred to in rule 13. This provides guidance on how to recognise the presence of badgers and the signs normally associated with an active badger sett, in order that both may be avoided at all times.