The last two years have gone from bad to worse for those who hunt foxes. Major land owners Forestry England, Natural Resources Wales and the National Trust have all banned trail hunting on their land. And now the Lake District National Park Authority has confirmed that it has also done the same.
A spokesperson for the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) stated:
"The Lake District National Park Authority has confirmed its intention to suspend trail hunting licences indefinitely for activity on land owned by the LDNPA. Officers made the decision and at a briefing members expressed support for their decision. This continues the suspension which has been in place since November 2020.
We will continue to liaise with fell packs, landowners and other stakeholders, including Cumbria Police."
The ban is a yet another massive blow for hunts as it has become common knowledge to the public that ‘trail’ hunting is just a façade, used as an excuse to illegally hunt and kill foxes.
Since hunting a wild animal with dogs became illegal in 2005, saboteurs and monitors on the ground have been documenting hunts across the country breaking the law time and time again. Even with footage of foxes being torn apart, the big land owners continued to issue licences to trail hunt.
But then a series of Zoom webinars were leaked in late 2020, showing the director of the Masters of Fox Hounds Association, Mark Hankinson, openly saying that trail hunting was just a smokescreen for illegal hunting. The webinars were attended by over 150 hunt masters from across the country. Hankinson was later found guilty of encouraging others to evade the fox hunting ban.
When the Zoom webinars became national news, a few of the big landowners finally felt forced to act, first by suspending trail hunting, and then later by enforcing a permanent ban. It is, therefore, despicable that it took the LDNPA so long to act.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is one of the last major land owners to continue to issue trail hunting licences, ignoring calls from campaigners to enforce a ban. But surely now it will be feeling even greater pressure to follow suit and stop the charade that is trail hunting for good.
The impending court case of Royal Artillery huntsman, Charles Carter, is already putting the MoD under the spotlight. Carter is charged with illegal hunting, and the alleged offence took place on MoD land. It is the first time a case related to the Hunting Act on MoD land has made it to court.
Campaigners will continue to pressure the MoD to see sense, and to be the next major land owner to ban trail hunting on its land.
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