Thursday, September 9

Campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports took to the streets of Winchester today [Thursday] to call on the National Trust to stop licensing ‘trail’ hunting on its land.

Volunteers and staff from the leading national animal welfare charity, including one in a fox costume, gathered in the town centre to urge the public to take action and sign up to the campaign.

Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “It’s been a great day in Winchester today, with lots of local supporters joining us in the city centre.

“We’ve spoken to lots of people on both sides of the hunting debate, which is something we welcome. Hopefully we’ve given pro-hunters something to think about when it comes to chasing wild animals for fun, and those who are anti-hunt and members of the National Trust will now consider asking the organisation to ban hunting with hounds on its land.”

The National Trust is due to hold a debate and vote about the future of so-called ‘trail’ hunting on its land when it holds its AGM in October.

National Trust members can vote for the ban now, however, by going online, until September 22. Non-members can still join us with our campaign in emailing the trust and asking that it support a ban.

Nick added: “It is evident that tragically fox hunting is still taking place across England and Wales despite the ban, and that’s why we’re calling on the National Trust to stop licensing ‘trail’ hunts on its land once and for all, and asking its members to help us do that.”

Today’s campaign event in Winchester is one of a number of events the League has been running this summer in the run-up to the trust’s AGM.

Fox hunts have come under the spotlight recently after senior figures within the hunting lobby were caught seeming to admit that ‘trail’ hunting, one of the excuses they use, is a ‘smokescreen’ for the chasing and killing of animals.

The National Trust, to its credit, paused the licensing of trail hunting after this, but it is now time to have the ban made permanent, the League says.

A fox hunting ban outlawed fox hunting in England and Wales in 2005 but in the 2019/20 season, the League Against Cruel Sports compiled figures revealing 485 separate eye-witness accounts of suspected illegal hunting.

Through much of 2020, hunting activities were disrupted by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. However the League still gathered figures showing 300 suspected cases of suspected illegal hunting during the cub hunting season in the autumn, although this is not something that is licensed by the National Trust.

Nick said: “The overwhelming majority of the public oppose fox hunting and it’s time to consign this barbaric activity to the history books for good.”

Ends

Notes to editors

Please find below photos of the League Against Cruel Sports ‘fox’, staff, volunteers and members of the public in Winchester today. Parents of children under 16 signed photo consent forms.

Photo one

Photo two

Photo three

Photo four

See here to find out more about trail hunting.

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).