National Trust votes to ban fox hunting on its land

The national trust, one of the UK’s largest landowners, has announced that the charity will no longer issue licenses for ‘trails’ hunt on his land – almost a year to the day since temporarily suspend the activity.

The Board of Directors has agreed to follow a overwhelming vote by members last month that the activity should end.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association predicted that some hunts would end as a result of the decision.

Other opponents, who have fought for years to have the confidence ban “track” hunting, have also rejoiced.

They argue that “trail” hunting is a smokescreen for hunting and killing real wildlife, including foxes. The hunters claimed that since the ban on hunting foxes in 2004, they have been following an artificial scent trail to comply with the law.

But the trust temporarily stopped issuing licenses last year after webinars were leaked in which hunting figures discussed tactics, including how to create the appearance of following scent trails.

Other landowners, including United Utilities and Forestry England, also suspended activity on their land.

As a result of the online meetings, Mark Hankinson, director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, was found guilty of encouraging others to commit an offense and ordered to pay £ 3,500 – in what was considered a historic decision.

Earlier this month, Natural Resources Wales announced a permanent ban on “trail” hunting.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, said, “The National Trust’s board of directors made the only reasonable decision, listened to its members and has definitely banned ‘trail hunting’ of the 620,000 acres of land. the organization.

“Along with the recent decision by Natural Resources Wales, over a million acres of countryside have been turned away from hunting, and more will surely follow.

“We expect some hunts to disappear completely and others to face an increasingly difficult future as they fight for land on which to conduct their illegal acts.

“We are seeing more and more councils denying the use of their facilities to hunters on Boxing Day and New Years, just another sign if there was a need, that ordinary people are fed up with the community of hunters. hunters and their blatant disregard for the law. “

The League Against Cruel Sports cautiously welcomed the National Trust’s decision, but said it feared it did not go far enough because without a “complete and explicit ban”, fox hunting could still have something to do with it. place.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns, said: “Their members’ voices could not have been louder, sending a clear message to the Board of Directors that enough is enough and that trail hunting should be banned on the lands of confidence.

“The Board of Directors has recognized the strong sentiments of its members and the general public, who are more aware than ever that the so-called trail hunting is being used as an excuse – a smokescreen – for illegal hunting.

“However, Hankinson’s recent verdict has shown that the top-down hunting community cannot be trusted, and not having a definitive ban could lead to foxes being hunted down and killed by hunts.”

Leading wildlife activist Dominic Dyer said the move now puts pressure on the government to ban hunting on its land and on private landowners to do the same.

“It puts enormous pressure on George Eustice [environment secretary] strengthening the hunting law, stopping trail hunting, stopping the activities of terrier men and taking seriously the implementation of the 2004 hunting law, and this is what we should see in a modern country and civilized.

The Hunting Bureau, which manages hunting in Britain, said it hoped to have further discussions with confidence about the decision.

A spokesperson said the decision was “extremely disappointing”, saying it was the result of “a campaign designed by opponents of trail hunting to intimidate landowners into shutting down legal activity” .

“Hunters have had access to National Trust lands for generations and the decision goes completely against the fundamental National Trust mantra“ for everyone, forever. ”We hope we can maintain an open dialogue with trust. and to have further consultations following the review that we are currently conducting, ”they said.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, said the National Trust’s decision violated a fundamental principle of “be for everyone”. He said: “By banning a legal activity, he has decided that it is in fact reserved for those his board of directors approves.

“The inability of the trustees to differentiate between the legal use of dogs and the governance of the hunt is extremely unfortunate. “

Last week Keswick City Council told the Blencathra Foxhounds, one of the Northwest’s biggest fox hunts, that it would no longer be welcome to meet in the town center on Boxing Day or at any other time.

The eyes of animal lovers are now on the other great British landowners.

The Defense Ministry said it would continue to allow “track” hunting on its land. A spokesperson said: “Trail hunting continues to be permitted on Department of Defense lands, subject to obtaining and following the conditions of a trail hunting permit and the law. “

A spokesperson for United Utilities said: “We continue to examine the implications of the [Hankinson] verdict. This includes assessing whether we have the resources to facilitate and monitor trail hunting. We would also need reassurance from hunters on how they will comply with licenses and the law. Until this is over, trail hunting remains suspended on our lands.

A Crown Estate spokesperson said: “The majority of our rural portfolio is made up of working farmland, and while any decision to allow hunting is the tenant’s responsibility, it must always be done in full compliance with the law. British.”

Forestry England has said it will not make any further decisions regarding trail hunting or dog exercise until all legal processes and the Hunt Bureau’s review are complete.

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