The Legal Bit
– For The Land Owner
By law, land owners must control rabbit numbers on their property or land. England (excluding the City of London and Isles of Scilly) was declared a rabbit clearance area under the Pests Act 1954, and if action is not taken, the Secretary of State for the Environment can enforce control and prosecute.
– For The Ferreter
Any ferreter should obtain permission from the land owner before undertaking any rabbit control activities, preferably written.
Remember that you could be charged with poaching and face prosecution, so having written permission at hand is obviously going to be an advantage should any Police Officer or Gamekeeper come calling!
The permission is the area of land that the land owner has given you permission to ferret on, simply as that!
However, rabbits are not that good at respecting borders, so the need to cross fences, gates etc. into other properties is usually the norm and if that is the case, it is vital that permissions are also obtained from the neighbouring land owners, should the need arise. Most of the time this is not usually a problem, but if it is, then you can’t cross, and you are unlikely to be able to serious control any problem.
Once you have been granted a permission it will be necessary to do a survey to make sure that you have a good idea of what you are getting into, the lay of the land, how many ferrets you are likely to require, do you need help and more importantly is it a feasible option to control the rabbit population there.
Remember that any permission is valuable and you should ensure you look after it, your reputation could be at stake and good customer relations will lead to other work. Out of courtesy make sure you inform the land owners when you’re going to visit they may have other engagements planned and the last thing you want to do is to ruin a family occasion!