Back in October 2020 a guest post by campaigner Jack Riggall – one of a series looking at Forestry England and illegal foxhunting – flagged up a recently-launched epetition aimed at the government: ‘Stop Forestry England granting licenses for Fox & Hare hunts‘.
As Jack pointed out, after just a few weeks the petition had attracted more than 10,000 signatures. This led to a typically bland response from Defra (who ultimately oversee the work of Forestry England, the government department responsible for managing and promoting the nation’s forests):
Trail hunting is a legal activity. Forestry England permits trail hunting under an agreement with the Masters of Fox Hounds Association. It has the power to suspend or withdraw any permission….
“Forestry England has no plans to end the granting of permission for trail hunting where the hunts concerned can meet the terms and conditions of the permission which are themselves kept under regular review.
“The Government will not amend the Hunting Act 2004.Defra response, Stop Forestry England granting licenses for Fox & Hare hunts, Oct 2020
Jack (who had posted his own petition and received a similar response from Defra just weeks before) wrote on this site at the time:
…in defending so-called ‘trail hunting’, Defra expects us to believe it actually exists when in reality it is a farce. The examples I referred to in the petition itself were of hunts tearing foxes apart, hounds rampaging through residential areas and more. Why does Defra think these incidents happen with such regularity if hunting organisations were genuinely trying to avoid harming wildlife?Jack Riggall, DEFRA’s Petition Response, Sept 2021
Keep the Ban’s current petition is right now closing in on 63,000 signatures. All so-called ‘trail hunting’ is banned under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and hunts are being hit in the pocket – hard. The rest of us – and of course our wildlife – are enjoying months of relative peace in the countryside.
We have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to major landowners like Forestry England, National Trust, and others that even if the government believes the ‘smokescreen’ of so-called ‘trail hunting’, we most certainly do not.
If you haven’t signed already, may we ask that you do so. Thankyou.