The National Trust AGM may have been last year, but unfortunately for the National Trust – and the poor foxes, deer and hare that suffer at the hands of the hunt – the issue of trail hunting on National Trust land has not gone away.
For those of you who do not yet know (which to be fair, includes a lot of paying National Trust customers), last October the National Trust narrowly voted through a new licensing scheme to continue to allow ‘trail’ hunting to take place on its properties. This wouldn’t be a problem if so-called trail hunting wasn’t a cynical cover for illegal hunting, but the League Against Cruel Sports believes that it is.

To continue to raise awareness of this issue, campaign group National Dis-Trust, who are a vital part of the campaign to end hunting on National Trust land, organised a day of action, with 20 demonstrations talking place across the country, including two organised by the League’s Regional Campaign Managers.

Jac Freeman - Fyne Court, Somerset
“Around 35 volunteers attended a protest at Fyne Court in the Quantock Hills. With numerous hunts operating in the Quantocks and a large portion of the land being owned by the National Trust it comes as no surprise that there have already been at least four instances of hunts trespassing on National Trust land this hunting season without a licence.

“Response from the public was very supportive and all of us were encouraged by the awareness we were able to bring to the issue of hunting on National Trust land. With many members of the public expressing shock that the National Trust condones blood sports and several offering to write directly to the National Trust about their concerns, we hope this day of action will start to show the National Trust that the public, and crucially their members, don’t want trail hunting to be licensed on National Trust Land. With local media, including ITV and Somerset Live in attendance, the hope is that we will be able to reach a wide audience with these protests.“

Emily Lawrence - Sherborne, Gloucestershire
“On a very cold but sunny day in Sherborne we met to protest against the National Trust licensing hunts on their properties. We were very pleased to be joined and supported by local people including a local parish councillor. As expected we were met with a handful of pro-hunt individuals but these were very much in the minority. Throughout the day we made it clear to visitors that Sherborne does not permit hunting on the estate but the National Trust does issue licences to hunts on many of its other properties. This news shocked a few of the walkers, one of whom said she, as a National trust member, would write to head office and make her feelings known. The estate manager introduced himself and said that since the Heythrop Hunt had been convicted in 2012 they would not be hunting on the Sherborne estate.

“Many people who came out for a Sunday walk went home with the League’s leaflet on trail hunting in their hand and knowing the difference between drag and trail hunting. Thank you to everybody who supported us including the estate manager and the workers on the estate who made us feel very welcome.”

Jonathon Proctor, Gibside (organised by National Dis-Trust and North East Hunt Monitors)
“What an amazing day. The League was thrilled to have played our part in the National Dis-Trust and North East Hunt Monitors organised Protest at Gibside National Trust.

"When we turned up we had a great response from the start with people honking their horns in support, taking our leaflets and talking to volunteers. Around 30 people campaigned at the entrance of the Gibside National Trust speaking to visitors, many of whom were shocked to learn that the National Trust allowed trail hunting on their lands. Some even turned around and went away in disgust in what they learned.

"It didn’t take long for pro-hunt individuals to arrive on the scene to harass and intimidate campaigners - filming, taking our photos, and more disturbingly filming our cars and following us. We were not going to be intimidated or off put by the arrival of the hunt followers and continued with the demonstration.

"The protest was a great success and extremely well organised. It was inspiring to see so many people brave the cold weather and intimidation tactics of the local hunts to come and make their voices heard. The North East Hunt Monitors and National Dis-Trust made a great impact and we were very glad we could play our part.”

I for one am really encouraged to see this level of grassroots action talking place across the country. This is how we win, with people power. Working together with local groups and individuals, because ultimately that’s how you get change. Congratulations to National Dis-Trust for such a successful day, and thank you to all who took part and took a stand for the country’s animals.

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