On the 19th of October 2019 the National Trust held its Annual General Meeting (or AGM) in Swindon in the west of England.
Delegates arriving at the venue were met by (polite) protestors asking the Trust to look again at a highly controversial decision made at their AGM in 2017. A motion proposed that year to ban the licencing of ‘trail hunting’ on National Trust land had been endorsed by 28,629 votes with 27,525 against, but had been defeated after the addition of 3,460 proxy votes cast by the Trust’s chair who had effectively ruled in favour of the hunts.
In this podcast campaigners and activists (along with one anti-hunt and one pro-hunt delegate) talk about so-called ‘trail hunting’ and explain what is being done to put pressure on the Trust to stop issuing licences for it at its 2020 AGM.
“…this next year is incredibly intense, incredibly important, for getting that message [about trail hunting] out to National Trust members…”
Jac Freeman, LACS | Protesting ‘trail hunting’ at the National Trust’s AGM
Why does this matter?
Under the Trust’s rules, a similar motion can not be brought to the AGM again for three years (so in 2020), but what is ‘trail hunting’ and why does it matter if the National Trust supports it anyway?
It matters because The National Trust is one of the UK’s most important conservation charities. It owns over 500 historic houses, castles, and gardens and looks after around 248,000 hectares of countryside. Countryside needed by hunts…
The Trust rightly takes great pride in its conservation work. It has helped reintroduce the Large Blue butterfly – an always rare species that became extinct in Britain in 1979, but which has been reintroduced from continental Europe as part of a long-term and highly successful conservation project. They’ve worked to return Water Voles to the rivers it manages, and created heathland habitat for Smooth Snakes. All species of UK bat are protected on NT properties.
But on ‘trail hunting’ – the National Trust has something of a blind spot…