The League Against Cruel Sports has welcomed a decision by the National Trust confirming that it will not issue ‘trail’ hunting licences for two hunts on its Long Mynd estate in Shropshire for the forthcoming fox hunting season.

However, the League has had to write to two other National Trust Estates elsewhere in the country calling on them to cancel trail hunting licences.

The action has come as the National Trust begins to issue hunting licences for its estates ahead of the traditional start of the fox hunting season in November.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“The Long Mynd Estate is to be commended for ensuring that fox hunts will not be allowed to hunt on its land again.

“With 85 per cent of the public opposed to the barbaric practice of hunting foxes with hounds, the decision by the National Trust ties in perfectly with public opinion.”

The decision comes after the National Trust suspended the South Shropshire Hunt’s licence in January this year, after monitoring group the Shropshire Monitors filmed the hunt illegally chasing a fox.

Trail hunting has been widely dismissed as a fraudulent activity which was invented after the fox hunting ban to deceive the authorities and the public, and is used as a cover-up for the illegal pursuit of foxes.

The National Trust issued 25 hunting licences across England and Wales last year but three of the licences, including one for Long Mynd, were suspended due to illegal fox hunting activity.

So far this season, the League has written to the Buscot and Coleshill estate in Oxfordshire, which recently issued trail hunting licences to both the Old Berkshire Hunt and Vale of White Horse hunt. The Old Berkshire Hunt was seen by the Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch group chasing and killing a fox, while the Vale of White Horse Hunt was seen encouraging the hounds to chase a fox.

The charity has also written to the Sugar Loaf mountain estate, which has issued a trail hunting licence to the Monmouthshire Hunt. The League received two reports from members of the public in August that the hunt was out cubbing.

Both cubbing and chasing a fox with dogs is illegal in the UK under the Hunting Act (2004).

Mr Luffingham added: “We are calling for the Hunting Act to be strengthened to close loopholes that allow activities such as trail hunting to be used as a cover for illegal hunting and to finally bring about an end to cruel sports in the UK.”