If you are keeping score, we are winning 420 to nil.

Ok, this is not a real score in the strict sense of the word, but you’ll see what I mean. On 21st of October 2017, the National Trust has its annual AGM in Swindon, but this will not be an ordinary AGM. Some members have tabled a motion to stop licensing hunts to undertake trail hunting, exempt hunting and hounds exercising on NT land. If voted in favour and implemented by their board, this would essentially mean that the 67 hunts that have been using NT land would have to go elsewhere.

Those opposing the motion, including the National Trust leadership itself which, in an attempt to persuade their members not to support the motion, have modified their policy about trail hunting (but have not changed enough to make it effective), have not provided much evidence to support their cause. In fact, they have produced none so far, only “denial” and deception.

For instance, the Countryside Alliance recently published their guidance on trail hunting stating “Trail-hunting was supported by anti-hunting activists as a suitable activity for hounds and hunt followers after the traditional hunting ban came into force, however it is these same activists who are now calling for it to be banned on National Trust land.” This is of course untrue. During the campaign to ban hunting the animal protection community could not have supported something that did not exist, as trail hunting was invented after the ban was passed. When hunt monitors first learnt about trail hunting they were very keen to assess it, but it very soon became apparent just what trail hunting was: a cover for illegal hunting; a kind of false alibi to be able to continue hunting with impunity. Therefore, the “anti-hunting” community has never supported trail hunting. It did not condemn it straight away as it was necessary to observe it first and check what it actually meant on the ground rather than on paper, but when the truth came out it was clear that trail hunting, not to be confused with drag hunting, was nothing but a deception, and bad news for wildlife and the countryside.

On the other hand, those supporting the NT motion now have at their disposal a great deal of evidence for their cause. There are more than four hundred pages of evidence to support the ban of all types of hunting on National Trust land and elsewhere, which we have produced and sent to everyone interested in the form of four comprehensive reports.

To support the part of the AGM motion that asks for a stop to licensing trail hunting on NT land, IFAW produced, in 2015, the Trail of Lies report, a comprehensive 200-paged-report which clearly shows that trail hunting is a cover for illegal hunting. Further data added to that report covering now the majority of fox hunts, has now backed its conclusions with stronger results.

To support the part of the AGM motion that asks for a stop to licensing exercising hunt hounds on NT land, two reports have been produced recently. Firstly, the League’s 20-paged the conservation problems of hunting with dogs during the ban in England and Wales, and soon after, Professor Steven Harris’ excellent 50-page report the impact of hunting with dogs on wildlife and conservation. From both it is clear that a pack of hounds let loose in the countryside, whether hunting or just being exercised, can cause disturbance to habitats, animals and the environment.

And finally, to support the part of the AGM motion that asks for a stop to “exempt” hunting on NT land, the League has now produced a 150-page report titled Observed to death - Report about illegal stag hunting, in which the abuse of exempt hunting by deer hunts is exposed. The Hunting Act 2004 allows some hunting to take place if done under particular purposes and following strict conditions, and this is known as “exempt” hunting. Hunts have been exploiting these exemptions, as in the case of the “Research and Observation” exemption, to avoid prosecution, and this new report shows exactly how stag hunts have done this across the last 12 years.

So, here you have it. Hundreds of pages of evidence showing that we should not trust the hunting fraternity. They are constantly trying to deceive everyone in order to continue chasing animals and defy the hunting ban. 

Let’s see if the score in terms of votes to support the motion in the National Trust AGM is equally as impressive.

If you haven't already, please find out how to vote in the National Trust AGM here.