In the run up to the start of fox hunting season next month, the National Trust has started to publicise the dates of the ‘trail’ hunting meets taking place on their land in 2018/19.

However, the League Against Cruel Sports is concerned about the timing of these announcements, as in some cases the dates are being published on the Trust’s website nearly a month after the hunt day has taken place.

Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports said:

“The National Trust seems to be back dating its hunt licencing dates! How can it be that a whole team has been employed to manage their ‘new’ licensing scheme, yet cannot get their hunt days up on their website on time? The National Trust claim to be publicising these dates as a matter of public safety, but not in time for the public to make an informed decision. Hardly ‘for everyone’ is it?”

The UK’s third largest membership organisation and second largest land owner currently issues licences to a number of hunts (79 were issued in 2016) on some of its estates. These licences are generally for 'trail' hunting, which the Trust says contain conditions designed to protect fauna and flora. However, it would seem the National Trust do not take any enforcement action for breaches of licence conditions unless there has been a police investigation and a conviction.

Hunts in England and Wales invented the activity of ‘trail’ hunting after the fox hunting ban came in. This claims to be a non-lethal sport where the hunt simply follows a pre-laid trail rather than searching for and chasing a fox. However, years of evidence shows that hunts are using trail hunting as a cover for illegal hunting by claiming to be following a trail but still carrying on and hunting foxes the way they did before the hunting ban. 

The League believes the evidence clearly shows that hunting activities on National Trust land are cruel, illegal, unauthorised and dangerous to the public, as well as damaging to Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.