This year more than 2.3 million acres of land have been denied to the hunts to use for their so-called ‘sport’, animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has revealed.

Throughout 2020 the League has been lobbying landowners to withdraw permission for ‘trail’ hunting to take place on their land, as we’ve long known it’s a smokescreen for real hunting.

And thanks to a co-ordinated effort by anti-hunting groups including the League following the leak of two training webinars from the Hunting Office, and a commitment from the police to investigate the webinar contents, landowners have been suspending trail hunting from swathes of England and Wales.

In those webinars members of hunting’s top brass echo the League’s own words, seeming to describe trail hunting as a “smokescreen” for chasing and killing wild animals with dogs – something that’s supposed to have been illegal for 15 years.

Chris Luffingham, the League’s campaign director, said: “As we near what should have been the ceremonial centre-piece of the hunting calendar, hunting is facing a crisis almost entirely of its own making.

“Not only do they seem to admit that what we’ve been saying for years is true, but now the public also knows what a sham trail hunting actually is.

“We have to commend Forestry England, the National Trust, United Utilities, Natural Resources Wales, Stefan Persson of H&M, the Church of England and the Lake District National Park for suspending trail hunting on their land.

“We also have to thank Petersborough Town Council and Cheshire East and Chester Council for following suit. We have written to some 80 other councils in England and Wales in the run-up to Boxing Day to urge them to tell us they will not allow trail hunting on their land.”

Polling carried out by Survation and released today by the League shows 69 per cent of respondents who read an excerpt from one of the webinars believe trail hunting should be banned.

And just 25 per cent think hunting should qualify as a ‘sport’ in order to be exempt from the rule of six in those tier areas where that rule still applies.

Mr Luffingham added: “This polling shows there can be no doubt that trail hunting is not credible as a pastime in the eyes of the general public, and as such we strongly urge landowners to make their bans permanent and for policy makers to strengthen the Hunting Act.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Full polling tables can be found here.

To arrange interviews, or for more information, contact Emma Judd on 07494399074.

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).