Hunting cancelled at National Trust Polesden Lacey Estate

Hunting has been cancelled at the Polesden Lacey estate after the National Trust and Surrey Union Hunt bowed to public pressure, just days before the hunt was scheduled to meet there. A large number of League Against Cruel Sports supporters contacted the estate the night before the decision asking them to protect animals on the estate by banning the hunt.

All hunting dates on the estate were cancelled in a joint decision between the hunt and the Trust, after hunting hounds under the control of the Surrey Union Hunt were observed chasing and killing a fox last weekend. The incident took place on the Surrey Hills near Peaslake on Saturday, 1 December – a fox took refuge in a hedge, where it was pursued by hunting hounds and literally torn apart – all witnessed by local campaigners from Guildford Hunt Saboteurs.

The League Against Cruel Sports, which wrote to Polesden Lacey’s management on Monday, urging the conservation body to block those seeking to hunt wildlife on its land, has welcomed the cancellation of the hunt meets.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, says:

“The cancellation of hunting at National Trust Polesden Lacey is welcomed. This outcome reflects the strong public opposition to the practice – with 85% of people opposed to hunting foxes with hounds – and provides foxes on the estate with the protection they deserve.

“By reaching a decision to cancel hunting at Polesden Lacey just days before the Surrey Union were scheduled to meet, the right thing has been done and we hope other National Trust properties will follow in cancelling their own hunting arrangements. There is no doubt the considerable number of National Trust members, visitors and employees, as well as the wider public, now expect nothing less.”

The death of the fox at the hands of the Surrey Union Hunt isn’t an isolated incident. Earlier in the day on Saturday the hunt was seen chasing another fox which fled into an earth, only to be spared from being dug out by the interventions of brave campaigners. Last month the Surrey Union Hunt stamped through the grounds of an elderly people’s home in Oakwoodhill, where riders and dogs disturbed residents whilst trespassing in pursuit of a fox.

In comments made to the Times, the Surrey Union Hunt vowed to continue hunting in areas away from National Trust land which are out of the gaze of the public eye. “There is plenty of other countryside we can use where we can avoid unwanted attention,” a hunt spokesperson said.

Chris Luffingham adds:

“If the Surrey Union Hunt is acting within the law and following a trail, then why would it wish to carry out its activities in secret? The reality is that foxes are being chased and killed by the hunt, which is the real motive for it shielding its activities from the public eye.

We are calling for the Government to strengthen the Hunting Act including tougher sentencing for hunts caught chasing and killing British wildlife.”

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