“..to do anything other than get rid of the licences would be bad for animals…which is ultimately why we’re doing this, it’s for the animals…”
Nick Weston is the Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports. Like everyone else at the League (and at other animal welfare/animal rights organisations) he is passionate about animals. It seems an obvious statement to make, but sometimes even seasoned campaigners get so involved in the latest struggle that we forget to make it clear why we fight, why we protest and campaign. Without wanting to put words in anyone else’s mouth, it’s because we love animals. As Chris Packham has so astutely said, we are fuelled by a sense of injustice. We detest the bullies who hurt them and loathe the organisations that work to find ways to marginalise or demonise them because we are compelled by a need to help and protect. Because at the heart of everything we do is a love of animals.
The latest campaign Nick is driving forward is focussed on the National Trust and the issuing of licences for so-called ‘trail hunting’ on its land. (Why do we say ‘so called’? Because trail hunting doesn’t exist. Even its own leadership says that ‘trail hunting’ is a smokescreen that allows them to continue with illegal fox hunting. Most of us understand that now, but not – it seems – the National Trust, one of the most respected conservations organisations in the country, and also one of its largest landowners.) And the League fights the issuance of those licences not because it doesn’t ‘like’ the National Trust, but because hunting harms animals.
So why does the National Trust allow so-called ‘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 pushing a ridiculously disingenuous excuse via what has to be as an automated response of not ‘allowing’ illegal activity on its land.
In the following interview Charlie Moores talks with Nick Weston about the National Trust’s position and the work being done by campaigners to ensure that by the next AGM (this autumn) as many members of the Trust as possible know that their charity facilitates hunting on its land and that through its licences the Trust is not just risking damage to protected landscapes but allowing animals to be harmed as well.