Animal welfare campaigners gather in Leamington calling for an end to 'trail' hunting on National Trust land
Campaigners have taken to the streets of Leamington today (Wednesday September 1) to call for an end to 'trail' hunting on National Trust Land.
Trail hunting replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.
Volunteers and staff from the national animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports, including one in a fox costume, gathered outside the town hall to urge the public to take action and sign up to its National Trust campaign.
The league wants the trust to to stop licensing trail hunting on its land for good.
Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “It has been a really positive day in Leamington today, with lots of people stopping by to talk to us about what we’re asking National Trust members to do – to vote in the trust’s upcoming annual meeting to ask it to ban so-called ‘trail’ hunting on its land.
“The people we met were friendly and welcoming, and keen to find out more…and to have their picture taken with Vinny, our fox.”
Nick added: “It is evident that tragically fox hunting is still taking place across England and Wales despite the ban, and that’s why we’re calling on the National Trust to stop licensing ‘trail’ hunts on its land once and for all, and asking its members to help us do that.”
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 that is licensed by the National Trust.
Nick said: “The overwhelming majority of the public oppose fox hunting and it’s time to consign this barbaric activity to the history books for good.”
On its website, the National Trust has 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 (2020) 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.
"This means we will not be operating the usual licence application process during this period."
For more information on the National Trust's position on trail hunting visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/our-position-on-trail-hunting