There is no such thing as so-called ‘trail hunting’. It was invented by fox hunts after the passing of the Hunting Act 2004 (which banned hunting with hounds) and is a smokescreen for illegal fox hunting – even the Masters of Foxhounds Association seems to agree with that. Hunts up and down the country routinely break the law, cause chaos on main roads, use violence against monitors (who are only present to stop wildlife crime taking place), lose control of their hounds, and use terrier men to illegally block or interfere with badger setts. Hunting can sue us if it can prove otherwise – it can’t, and it won’t anyway because the last thing it wants is to have its filthy laundry dragged through the courts…
So why does the National Trust (NT), one of the nation’s most respected conservation charities and one of its largest landowners, allow so-called ‘trail hunting’ (and we always use that phrase see this post for the reason why – Language Matters | Smokescreen/Trail Hunting)? Because its Chair (and soon to be former Chair) used proxy votes at the Trust’s AGM in 2017 to vote down a proposal that the National Trust should stop issuing licences to hunts to use their land.
The Trust has been forced to explain its highly contrary position of protecting wildlife while facilitating hunting ever since, referring questions on social media to the disingenuous “Our position on Trail Hunting” page on its website or (what is presumably a bot rather than a real person) endlessly asking the public to do the job of policing illegal activity on thir behalf.
Following lockdown and the ‘smokescreen webinars’ the Trust has temporarily suspended licencing so-called ‘trail hunting’. It’s a step forward, but that suspension needs to be made permanent. Allowing access to its huge landholdings and lending its name to so-called ‘trail hunting’ is extremely damaging for the Trust’s reputation. Another proposal to ban hunts from NT land will be discussed at the AGM this autumn, and animal welfare charities, organisations, and groups are ramping up efforts to both inform members about the vote and rally the public against the Trust’s patently indefensible position.
Once again the League Against Cruel Sports is organising its teams to get out into city centres up and down England (National Trust Scotland has already banned all forms of hunting including so-called ‘trail hunting’). They are reporting back that there is a widespread lack of understanding amongst the public that the Trust allows hunts on its land, and that most people are shocked when they discover that it does.
If you’d like to join in (and volunteers are always welcome) here are the venues and dates that the League have announced so far:
- July 10: Cambridge, Guildhall
- July 26: Exeter
- July 29: Reading
- July 31: Cardiff, Queen Street
- August 3: Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens
- August 6: Stratford Upon Avon
- August 19: Giants Causeway, County Antrim
- August 21: York, Parliament Street
- Date TBC: Bristol
- Date TBC: Cheltenham
The League’s essential message is that 2021 must be the last year ever that the National Trust licences so-called ‘trail hunting’ on its land. If you’d like to help the campaign please have a look at End hunting on National Trust land.
And if you’re still not sure what all the fuss is about, have a listen to Nick Weston, the League’s Campaign Manager, who explains everything in less than four minutes…