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Illegal hunting with dogs

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Illegal hunting with dogs remains problematic in farming communities. Many farmers complain that this type of crime does not get the necessary response from the police. In many cases a trespassing complaint is not even opened by the police nor is a fine issued (J534).

Complaints that occurred frequently and continuously occurred at Dewetsdorp, Excelsior, Reitz, Smithfield, Tweespruit and Ventersburg. Dr Jane Buys, Safety risk analyst for Free State Agriculture (FSA) recommends that farmers should follow up on what happens with the cases at the local police so that any defects can be taken up with the police by the necessary structures.

Farmers are made aware of the content in Agri SA’s Legal Aspects information document which is also endorsed by certain lawyers and which is also promoted during training sessions by LGV/FSA with farming communities.

Illegal hunting with dogs involves the use of dogs in hunting game or livestock.

  • Any person who injures any game/livestock that does not belong to him/ her can be found guilty of malicious damage to property.
  • Any person hunting with a dog must have a permit for the purpose of tracking birds or searching for an animal that was injured during a legal hunt.
  • Illegal hunting often leads to the commission of various crimes such as trespassing, malicious damage to property, livestock theft and theft.

WHAT TO DO if you encounter illegal hunters and their dogs:

  • Avoid any confrontation, especially if you are alone.
  • Try, if possible, to catch the dogs and hand them over to the SPCA.
  • Warn the hunters that they are trespassing on your land and that you will call the police in the event that they cannot show a permit or do not leave the property.
  • Report any suspicious activity to the local police station with a clear description of any details you can remember.
  • Keep any evidence at the crime scene until the police can record and collect it.
  • Put up a notice stating that this is private land and that any access without the owner’s permission will be considered trespassing – this can only be done at the entrance to the property and not around the property.


  • Do not shoot any person or dog unless you or someone else with you are in danger of serious injury – it would be good to ask fellow farmers to be present when talking to the hunters in order to avoid any “false complaints” that can be filed with the police.
  • You do not have the right to use deadly force to protect property; therefore, killing a dog to protect your livestock or wildlife may result in a civil claim for malicious damage to property.


  • File a criminal complaint in terms of the Trespassing Act or the Animal Protection Act.
  • If the dog is caught and the owner is known, you can apply for compensation in terms of tort law against the dog’s owner for any loss you have suffered.