Fox escapes hunting hounds thanks to League sanctuary

Paul Tillsley, head of conservation and education at the League, watched as the hunt’s hounds ran in full cry across the protected land next to St John’s Wood, donated to the League by former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

The League has created more than 3,000 acres of sanctuary land to be a safe haven for all animals, either by owning the land outright or by holding the sporting rights to it and thereby being able to deny the hunts access.

Despite this, hunts regularly trespass on the land and put wildlife at risk.

Paul said: “The hunts have never accepted our right to be here because they think they can hunt where they like, and to an extent they still do. So we have to be on our guard the whole time if we know that there’s a hunt around.”

This is the third interview with the League in which managers of wildlife sanctuaries have described how hunts who claim to be ‘trail’ hunting will regularly trespass on their land.

In ‘trail’ hunting, hunts claim to follow a pre-laid animal scent, mimicking traditional fox hunting. If trail hunting is real, hunts would not be trespass on sanctuary land.

Instead, the evidence demonstrates that this is merely an excuse made by hunts who continue to chase and kill live foxes.

The League Against Cruel Sports received 184 reports of hunt trespass during the last hunting season, which ran from October until March. In 74 of these incidents, hunts trespassed on protected land including nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Fortunately, after the hounds were seen on League protected land, the fox was then filmed escaping into St John’s Wood after Paul confronted the hunt’s terrier men and told them to leave. If he hadn’t, he believes it was unlikely the hounds would have been called off the chase.

He said: “So long after the Hunting Act has come into force, we shouldn’t have to guard our land against trespassing - they know where our land is and they should be keeping well away from it so there are no accidents.”

The National Trust continues to license trail hunting on its land. If you would like end hunting on National Trust land. Sign up for more information here.

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