CAMPAIGNERS from the League Against Cruel Sports took to the streets of Worcester with the League ‘fox’ to call on the National Trust to stop licensing ‘trail’ hunting on its land.
Volunteers and staff from the leading national animal welfare charity gathered on the High Street on Monday (August 16) to urge the public to take action and sign up to its National Trust campaign.
The day of action in Worcester was one of a series of events taking place across the country this summer ahead of the National Trust’s AGM in October, when members will debate a permanent ban on the licensing of trail hunting.
Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We spoke with lots of local people with the vast majority being National Trust members, and who enthusiastically signed up to our campaign calling on the National Trust to stop fox hunting on its land.
“It is evident tragically fox hunting is still taking place across England and Wales despite the ban, so we are calling on the National Trust to stop licensing ‘trail’ hunts on its land once and for all.”
Fox hunts have come under the spotlight recently after senior figures within the hunting lobby were caught during a webinar seeming to admit ‘trail’ hunting was a smokescreen for the chasing and killing of animals.
The National Trust paused the licensing of trail hunting after this, but League chiefs now want to have the ban made permanent.
A fox hunting ban outlawed fox hunting in England and Wales in 2005 but in the 2019/20 season, the League Against Cruel Sports compiled figures revealing 485 separate eye-witness accounts of suspected illegal hunting.
Through much of 2020, hunting activities were disrupted by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. However the League still gathered figures showing 300 suspected cases of suspected illegal hunting during the cub hunting season in the autumn, although this is not something licensed by the National Trust.
“The overwhelming majority of the public oppose fox hunting and it’s time to consign this barbaric activity to the history books for good,” Mr Weston said.
In a statement, the National Trust said: “Hunting wild mammals with dogs was banned in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004: National Trust land is no exception.
“The law does allow what is known as trail ‘hunting’ to continue. This activity involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.
“We paused trail hunting on National Trust land last year following leaked Hunting Office webinars and a resultant police investigation.
“We’ve been listening carefully to both sides of a highly polarised and passionate debate around trail hunting and will be considering a number of issues before reviewing our position on trail hunting later this year.”