Minister says calls for trail hunting ban on public land need further consideration
The Minister for Rural Affairs has said a proposed ban of trail hunting on all publicly owned land in Wales requires further consideration.
Lesley Griffiths was responding to Joyce Watson MS Mid and West Wales who spoke in the Senedd urging the Welsh Government to work with authorities, organisations, and landowners to ensure the ban includes town centres where they traditionally meet for Boxing Day and New Year’s Day hunts
Fox hunting with dogs was banned in England and Wales, under the 2004 Hunting Act but trail hunting was permitted to continue.
Trail hunting replicates a traditional hunt, with people and hounds following a scent but without foxes being chased or killed. However, many believe that this has been used as an excuse for illegal fox hunting.
Speaking in the Senedd, Joyce Watson said: “In October this year, Mark Hankinson, who was the director of Masters of Foxhounds Association, was convicted of encouraging illegal fox hunting.
“He was caught on camera advising hunts on how to break the 2004 Hunting Act. He exposed what many believe to be true of trail hunting, that it’s used as a smokescreen for illegal hunting.
“Since his conviction, I was pleased to see that a number of organisations, including Natural Resources Wales, and the National Trust, has since banned trail hunting on their land.
“Members of the National Trust voted overwhelmingly to support that ban. I’d like to call for a ban on trail hunting on all publicly owned land.
“That includes town centres where many of the hunts have traditionally met for their Boxing Day and their New Year’s Day hunt.”
“I would like to urge the Welsh Government to look and work closely with other authorities and organisations and landowners to make this a reality.”
She added: “It’s not just our wildlife that has suffered horrendously as a result of so-called trail hunting, but also dogs. Many are run over on busy roads during a hunt, or, as seen in recent footage, shot dead when they are no longer deemed useful.
“This, sadly, is not illegal, but nonetheless is barbaric.”
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, responded: “Thank you, I very much welcome the decision made by Natural Resources Wales on 18 November not to renew their agreement with the Masters of Foxhounds Association.
“And, as you say, the National Trust banned trail hunting on their land from 25 November.
“That decision was made in a public session, where careful consideration was made of all the issues involved following the outcome of the court case to which you refer against a senior leader of the Masters of Foxhounds Association.
“Your request around consideration of a ban of trail hunting on all public land is something that would need further consideration by the Welsh Government.”
In November, Welsh Government nature agency Natural Resources Wales one of Wales’ biggest landowners, banned the trail hunting after a court ruled that a leading huntsman had encouraged the practice as a smokescreen for illegal foxhunting.
The Countryside Alliance claimed that the decision of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to ban trail hunting on its land is a “political one”.
The pro-fox hunting group responded to the move by the Welsh Government-sponsored body, saying it is part of an “ongoing attack on the rural way of life”.
National Trust members voted by 76,816 to 38,184 in favour of banning trail hunting. Those who proposed the motion claimed that “overwhelming evidence leads to the conclusion that ‘trail hunting’ is a cover for hunting with dogs”.