National Trust follows Natural Resources Wales in banning trail hunting
Last week, Welsh Government nature agency Natural Resources Wales, which looks after swathes of countryside and forests, banned trail hunting on its land.
Now the National Trust has followed its scent, in a decision announced by the charity’s board of trustees. The ban applies to land in Wales and England.
Hunting wild mammals with dogs was already banned in Wales and England by the Hunting Act of 2004, but trail hunting is exempt from the ban.
The move comes after 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”.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, has however criticised the move.
“The National Trust’s decision breaks a fundamental principle,” he said. “The charity claims to be “for everyone, for ever”, but by prohibiting a legal activity it has decided it is actually just for those who its board approves of.
“The inability of trustees to differentiate between the legal use of hounds and the governance of hunting is extremely regrettable and breaks the basic principle of access to National Trust land for legitimate activities.”
The Countryside Alliance had also claimed that the decision of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to ban trail hunting on its land is a “political one”.
Both Natural Resources Wales and the National Trust made their decisions after a court ruled that a leading huntsman had encouraged the practice as a smokescreen for illegal foxhunting.
It said it decided to ban train hunting completely because it could not be sure that it was not still being used as a “cover” for illegal activity.
Dominic Driver, the head of land stewardship for NRW, said: “The outcome of the court case against a senior leader of the MFHA has resulted in a loss of confidence in the organisation’s ability to ensure its activities are carried out within the law and terms of its agreement.
“In order to assure ourselves properly that trail hunting on our estate wasn’t being used as a cover for illegal activity, we would have to invest in skills and resources that we currently don’t have, to police it properly.
“Given what has historically been a minor use of the land we manage, this does not represent good use of our limited resources. All trail hunting activity on the NRW-managed estate will end with immediate effect.”