LACS | The National Trust and Trail Hunting

We’ve written many times about the National Trust (NT, one of the UK’s most important conservation charities) and its unfortunate affair with so-called ‘trail hunting’ (see a National Trust and Trail Hunting 101 for example). We’d rather not have to keep repeating ourselves, but so-called ‘trail hunting’ is a clear example of the war on wildlife, we exist to help tackle that war, and there is no good reason whatsoever for the NT to facilitate ‘trail hunting’ on its land. It’s not just us that thinks this of course: once they have the facts no-one outside of hunting thinks one of the country’s most respected charities should be allowing fox hunts to break the law on charity-owned land.

A very important vote will be taken at the NT’s next AGM: it will ask that the charity stop licensing trail hunting on its land. At the last AGM a motion to ban this ‘fox hunting in disguise’ was narrowly defeated by just a handful of proxy votes cast by the Chair. Campaigners are determined this won’t be repeated, and The League Against Cruel Sports are now focussing their resources on the NT and asking us all to join its campaign to ensure so-called ‘trail hunting’ is banned from NT land forever.

A clear majority of the British public loathe fox hunting, and facilitating illegal hunting on their land is harming the reputation of a great charity. We know it and the Trust’s staff know it too. If lockdown has taught us anything it’s that the public are desperate for open spaces, for reconnecting with nature – to open up their lands to us and to people intent on chasing and killing wild animals is so contradictory it’s hard to understand how the National Trust can’t see how offensive it is.

We’ve posted details of LACS’ campaign below, but here are four key points that explain why this campaign is so important:

  • Trail hunting – supposedly following a scent trail instead of a live animal – was invented by fox hunts after the passing of the Hunting Act which (banned hunting wild animals with dogs) as a way to keep the paraphernalia of hunts intact while they campaigned for repeal. It is a sham.
  • Hunts are still going out thousands of times a year to kill wild animals using ‘trail hunting’ as an excuse.
  • Fox hunts need huge amounts of land to hunt over – if they have no access to land they can’t hunt.
  • The National Trust is one of the nation’s largest landowner – around 2,550 km2 – and a well-respected charity: hunts need both the land and the legitimacy being linked with the NT brings. This is why fox hunts so desperately need NT support to continue.


End hunting on National Trust land

You may have seen in the last fortnight that the campaigns team has officially launched our action to urge the National Trust to ban ‘trail’ hunting on its land.

Most of you will know that hunts invented ‘trail’ hunting after the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004, 15 years ago, in which the hounds are supposed to follow pre-laid scents rather than real foxes.

But as we will be showing during the course of our campaign, if ‘trail’ hunting is real, then why are animals still being chased and killed by hunting hounds?

Our aim is simple: to help show the National Trust that ‘trail’ hunting is a sham, a cover for illegal hunting, that no trails are laid and the hunts are making a mockery of the Act. 

The National Trust is holding its annual meeting on October 31 and we’re backing a motion that’s being put forward by one of our supporters to urge the Trust to hold a members’ vote on whether to continue to license ‘trail’ hunting.

More than 200 of our own supporters who are also members of the Trust have signed to support it, and this week all those signatures were sent to the Trust for its consideration.

All we can do now is keep highlighting ‘trail’ hunting as a sham and wait to see if it is put on the agenda…but we are also asking for your help!

 Please help us spread our message by sharing our film to your friends and colleagues, either on social media or forwarding this email to them.

Also, please don’t cancel your National Trust membership. Only by having as many voices as possible can we seek to influence the trust into banning ‘trail’ hunting.

And, as our director of campaigns Chris Luffingham said recently, “The National Trust is a great organisation and the role it plays in preserving historic sites is second to none. However, one part of history it doesn’t need to preserve is fox hunting, even indirectly.”

You can watch our second video, which outlines the scale of hunt chaos on roads and railways.

Please help us. If you haven’t already, sign up to our National Trust campaign to be notified of when voting opens: go to

League Against Cruel Sports June 2020


  • Images from League Against Cruel Sports website