What a pleasant change. I’ve been stuck in the office recently dealing with the recent attacks on us by the pro-hunt media. Instead, this weekend I had the great privilege of getting out on the front line with supporters at the National Trust (NT) AGM, and then straight on to our Rutting Event at Baronsdown Wildlife Sanctuary.

This is what the League is all about – campaigning to prevent animals being persecuted and giving them a sanctuary where they can live in peace.

At the AGM we, along with other groups, had a good many supporters present to greet NT members as they walked into the venue. We were giving a clear message and quite a few looked like they agreed with us. The fact is that 87% of townies and 81% of country folk want to stop hunting and so it is still hard to believe the NT are still begging to differ.

Andy Knott CEO and staff at National Trust AGM protest with supporters.

Yes, they have made some steps towards trying to legitimise what they are sanctioning, such as licensing the hunts that use their land, but can you really licence cruelty? Of course not. The additional effort and their own members’ money they are spending to deal with this issue could both be saved by simply banning hunting on their land. That’s the rational argument, but there is another reason why I think this is an issue where the NT should bow to public opinion: the strength of our supporters and the ever-growing influence in our voice. This is helping bring a growing realisation across the population that hunting, as it is described and disguised across the land, is still going on and is simply not conducive to how the overwhelming majority of people want to live.

It was then on to Exmoor to see the other end of the spectrum, with some 40 supporters who had come to see the Deer Rut and to experience first-hand what we are doing in our sanctuaries. Outside, as I arrived, I had to run the gauntlet of the hunt followers, scattered about the lands as the Quantock Staghounds chased down a magnificent stag. Only a few meters were between it and the safety of our sanctuary. Inside, there were our people, those that want to save these beautiful creatures and who had turned out to show their support for our education and conservation programmes.

Andy Knott CEO with staff and supporters at Baronsdown Wildlife Sanctuary

What we showed them became all the more poignant as, a couple of hours after entering Baronsdown, one single high velocity shot rang out down the valley. Yet another stag was taken from us. That sound filled me, and I know all of us there, with determination to stop this brutal sport. What right have a tiny minority of people to rid the landscape of these creatures for the rest of us and in such a brutal and frightening way? We will continue to expose what they are doing to the public and the authorities at every turn until they stop hunting for good.

I want to end my blog by paying tribute to our supporters. Of the 80 or so I met, all shared a sense for putting animals first. Their focus, determination, resolve and humanity humbled me. I was told that in adversity, League supporters rally round and it is so true. Let’s put animals and not egos first and foremost and remember why we all do what we do. Thank you everyone. Please keep at it and bring us more supporters. There’s nothing like sheer weight of numbers when it comes to winning.