Malvern Hills Trust ban ‘trail’ hunting on its land
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
The League Against Cruel Sports has welcomed a decision by the Malvern Hills Trust to ban ‘trail’ hunting on its land after concerns were raised about the behaviour of two local fox hunts.
The trustees of the organisation voted earlier this month to suspend licencing of all trail hunting on its land indefinitely following a series of infringements by the Ledbury Hunt and the Croome and West Warwickshire Hunt to their trail hunting policy and Trust bylaws.
Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We applaud the trustees for making the right move and banning trail hunting for good on its land.
“The tide is turning against fox hunting and its ‘trail’ hunting activities which have been exposed as a ‘smokescreen’ to cover up the chasing and killing of animals.”
A report commissioned by the Malvern Hills Trust on trail hunting showed very little evidence of trail laying, hounds out of control, and the hunts disturbing wildlife including foxes, muntjac and a tawny owl being flushed out of undergrowth.
During the monitoring of ten separate hunting days, only one trail was ever seen being laid and this involved a sock being dragged across a field for a couple of minutes – this was done behind the hounds who were travelling in the opposite direction at speed and the hunt were not reported returning to the location later in the day.
A woman visitor to the hills also reported being forced off a bridleway by a hunt travelling at speed causing serious concerns for the safety of her child.
The hunts were witnessed encouraging their hounds into areas of cover – where wild animals are likely to be found – in breach of the Trust’s trail hunting policy and in areas reported to be almost impossible to physically lay a trail through as they were impenetrable on foot or by horse.
The decision to ban trail hunting falls against the backdrop of 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 was caught telling hunt masters how to use the excuse of so-called ‘trail’ hunting to get away with killing animals.
‘Trail’ hunting was described by Judge Tan Ikram, deputy chief magistrate of England and Wales, as a ‘mirage’ ‘sham’ and ‘smokescreen’.
Trail hunting was also banned last week by Natural Resources Wales.
The decision to end ‘trail’ hunting comes in advance of a National Trust meeting to discuss the future of trail hunting on its land after members at its recent AGM voted overwhelmingly for it to be banned.
The League is campaigning to get other major landowners to commit to permanently banning trail hunting after many organisations suspended it late last year in the light of the leaked hunt webinars which led to the Hankinson trial.
Nick added: “We’re calling on the nation’s major landowners including 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 ban the practice of trail hunting.
“Enough is enough. It’s time for the fox hunts to be brought to heel once and for all and to be prevented from accessing the countryside where they can kill with impunity.”
Notes to editors
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@example.com
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 2004 and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021. 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).