CAMPAIGNERS from the League Against Cruel Sports were in Cirencester today (Friday) to call on the National Trust to stop licensing ‘trail’ hunting on its land.
Volunteers and staff from the national animal welfare charity, including one in a fox costume, gathered outside the Bishops Walk Shopping Centre to urge the public to take action.
Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports said: “It is evident that 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.”
He added: “The National Trust to its credit suspended the licensing of trail hunting after this, but it’s now time to have the ban made permanent.
“The overwhelming majority of the public oppose fox hunting and it’s time to consign this barbaric activity to the history books for good.”
A fox hunting ban outlawed fox hunting in England and Wales in 2005.
But in the 2019/20 season, the League Against Cruel Sports claims to have 485 separate eye-witness accounts of suspected illegal hunting.
The day of action in Cirencester is one of a series of League actions taking place across the country ahead of the National Trust’s AGM in October, when there will be a vote in which members will get the chance to call for a permanent ban on the licensing of trail hunting.
Mr Weston said fox hunts have come under the spotlight recently after senior figures within the hunting lobby “were caught seeming to admit that ‘trail’ hunting, one of the excuses they use, is a ‘smokescreen’ for the chasing and killing of animals”.
He added: “The National Trust to its credit suspended the licensing of trail hunting after this, but it’s now time to have the ban made permanent.”
The National Trust says hunting wild mammals with dogs was banned in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004: National Trust land is no exception.
A statement on their website says: “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.”
The statement adds: “We have taken the decision to pause trail hunting on National Trust land and will not be granting any new licences for the remainder of the season.
“We do not currently have a date when this will be reviewed.”