In a statement published by Forestry England on Wednesday 25th November, they have confirmed that all licences for trail hunting in the nation’s forests will be suspended until the police have concluded their investigation.

In a statement to ITV News, Forestry England said it has “suspended all licences for trail hunting in the nation’s forests. This is in response to confirmation that the police are investigating webinars hosted by the Hunting Office” .

Mike Seddon, Forestry England Chief Executive, said: “We are clear when we give people licences or permission for activities in the nation’s forests that they must behave legally and responsibly or risk losing the right to carry on.

“Once we had confirmation from the police that they were investigating activities involving the Hunting Office, we suspended all licences granted to organisations that delegate work to them. The Hunting Office is the central organisation which runs the administrative, advisory and supervisory functions of six Hunting Associations.

“We do not intend to make any further comments until the police have concluded their investigation.”

This is good news for wildlife for now but we urge Forestry England to go one step further and to permanently ban all “trail hunts” on their land.

Please SIGN our petition calling for a permanent ban on “trail hunt” licences

Background to the webinars hosted by the Hunting Office:

Senior Hunt Official admits trail laying is used to “create a smokescreen”

In a video released by the Hunt Saboteur Association on November 13th, Mark Hankinson (MFHA Director, Hunting Office Executive Director, and former Master of the Wilton Hunt) is shown on camera explaining how trails are laid to create a smokescreen and “to portray to the people watching that you’re going about legitimate business”.

Below are a couple of full extracts from the 3-hour long webinar as Mark Hankinson explains the importance of fake trail laying:

“It’s a lot easier to create a smokescreen if you’ve got more than one trail layer operating and that is what it’s all about, trying to portray to the people watching that you’re going about legitimate business. Obviously, it’s important for the trail layers to know where you’re going to go. Give them a brief beforehand, tell them what your order of draw is and if it changes for any reason let them know. You’ve got to have clear communication.”

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He goes on to say:

“It’s probably just as well to have something foul smelling on the end of the drag just in case an anti leaps out from behind a gateway and grabs hold of it and says, ‘This is just a clean hanky’ or something and of course the other thing you don’t want your trail layer getting mixed up with the, you know, stop at the meet or if there’s a check or wherever the hounds are and he’s stood in the middle discussing the next rule with the huntsman and the lure is just dangling down in front old Dreadnought’s nose and he’s paying no attention to it. Pretty obvious it’s no good for anything, so that is another very important factor to bear in mind while
you’re doing all of this.”

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The three webinars were part of a series that took place in August this year and were attended by over a hundred and fifty hunt masters from across the country.  The panel was made up of leaders of the hunting community including:

Lord Mancroft – Conservative Peer, Chair of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and former Chair of the Countryside Alliance.

Mark Hankinson – MFHA Director, Hunting Office Executive Director  and former Master of the Wilton Hunt.

Richard Tyacke – Chairman of the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB), Hunting Office Executive Director  and former Master and Huntsman of the Wynnstay Hunt.

Paul Jelley – Master of the Chilmark and Clifton Foot Beagles from 1990 – 2013 and a Police Officer for 30 years.

Polly Portwin – Head of Hunting at the Countryside Alliance and a member of the notorious Kimblewick Hunt.

This ground breaking expose could not have been possible without the work of the Hunt Saboteur Association so please show them some support. You can become a member here for as little as £20 a year and it is the most effective way to help directly save wildlife from the hunts.

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban

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