It’s official! National Trust board ends ‘trail’ hunting
Thursday, November 25, 2021
The League Against Cruel Sports has cautiously welcomed the National Trust officially ending the licensing of so-called ‘trail’ hunting on its land today, but is concerned it doesn’t go far enough.
In a landslide vote at the trust’s annual meeting in October, its members said enough is enough and voted overwhelmingly to ask the trustees to ban ‘trail’ hunting, and hound exercise which is routinely used as a smokescreen for old fashioned illegal hunting. However, the League says it is unclear whether it has prohibited exempt hunting activities, which could still potentially lead to animals being chased and killed. This was also voted by the membership to be banned and the League and asks that the National Trust clarifies its position.
The League Against Cruel Sports has been running a campaign since 2017 to urge the National Trust to end hunting on its land, culminating in this year’s AGM.
It was the largest voting turnout at a National Trust AGM in its history – and the League’s staff and supporters were there to celebrate the result.
However, the end to trail hunting on National Trust land could not become permanent until the trustees agreed to honour the members’ wishes, and the League are concerned that without a full and explicit ban, fox hunting could still take place.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League, said: “Their members’ voices could not have been louder, sending a clear message to the board of trustees that enough is enough and trail hunting should be banned on trust land.
“The board has recognised the strength of feeling in its membership and the public in general, who are more aware than ever that so-called trail hunting is used as an excuse – a smokescreen – for illegal hunting. However, the recent Hankinson verdict has shown that the hunting community cannot be trusted from the top down, and not having a definitive ban could lead to foxes being chased and killed by hunts.”
The move follows closely behind an announcement by Natural Resources Wales that it would no longer be allowing trail hunting on its land, which accounts for around seven per cent of Wales’ countryside and forests.
It follows the conviction of Mark Hankinson, the disgraced now former director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, who was found guilty of encouraging or assisting others to break the Hunting Act 2004, under the Serious Crimes Act 2007. He had been talking to more than 100 other huntsmen on a series of training webinars about how to use trail hunting as – in his words – a smokescreen.
The NRW said in a statement that: “The outcome of the court case against a senior leader of the MFHA has resulted in a loss of confidence in the organisation’s ability to ensure its activities are carried out within the law and terms of its agreement.”
The League is continuing to lobby other major landowners such as Forestry England, United Utilities, the Church of England, Crown Estates, Duchy of Cornwall, local authorities, the national parks authorities, and the Ministry of Defence to follow the National Trust and Natural Resources Wales in banning the practice of trail hunting.
Notes to editors
See here to find out more about trail hunting.
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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).