I am confident that when the history is written future generations will look back on the 2017 general election and mark it as the moment that saw the beginning of the end for cruel sports in this country.

It didn’t always appear that way though. The little legislative muscle we had thanks to the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004 was on the verge of being rescinded in its entirety. One revealing comment by Theresa May and the tide of the election began to turn, and the rest was, as they say, history. Rather than a pro-hunt majority we witnessed a new intake of MPs resolved to keep the anti-hunt protections in place. Commitments to bring back hunting were quietly dropped and prospect of a country returning to blood sport are now bleaker than ever.

That is not to say that all is well. Far from it, as hundreds of hunt monitors across the land will confirm. Animals are still dying; the Hunting Act remains a flawed piece of legislation which needs strengthening if it is to have the impact we all want. Our professional investigators collect evidence on an almost daily basis of the law being flouted.

Legislative change may be some way off but the route to real change has more than one path.

For 60 years the League has acquired Sporting Rights and managed Sanctuaries providing safe-haven for animals. 3,000 acres of sanctuary where animals are free from being hunted. But it is not enough, and as another season of hunting and shooting rolls around, we are stepping up our efforts. Over the last couple of years, we have launched campaigns against some well known and influential institutions including The National Trust, Yorkshire Water, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), and the University of Wales. The unifying feature of these campaigns is land. All these organisations are significant landowners who maintained a position that enabled hunting and shooting to take place. Up to now we have been circumspect regarding the overall strategy but recent success with NRW and the University of Wales have convinced us that now is the time to make a clear unambiguous statement of intent.

We are coming after the land.

If land where hunting and shooting takes place is withdrawn from service, hunting and shooting will find it harder and harder to operate.
We have seen councils start to make moves toward banning hunts from their land. We know from talking to them that they have drawn inspiration from our efforts. The National Trust has seen applications for licenses to hunt on their land drop significantly over the previous couple of seasons; Yorkshire Water faces mounting pressure to end the awarding of leases to shooting estates.

Some work will remain in the background, behind the scenes, but in the coming weeks and months we will be accelerating this campaign. We will be publishing new materials and case studies designed to make the process for landowner who want to deny the use of their land to all the easier.

Legislation isn’t the only way we can end cruel sports. We can unite and take away their means to operate – one acre at a time.