Did you know that the National Trust have given out licences to so-called "trail hunts" as recently as 2020? Did you know that as of 2019 the hound killing Duke of Beaufort Hunt were given permission by the National Trust to "trail hunt" on their land? Well you do now. HELP US TAKE ACTION NOW

Landowners such as the National Trust and Forestry England face mounting pressure to permanently end the licences given out to so-called "trail hunts" after shocking footage was released showing hounds being mercilessly shot dead by the prestigious Duke of Beaufort Hunt. The hunt, which is one of the oldest in the country and has hosted the likes of Prince Charles, was licenced to use land owned by the National Trust in 2019.  Keep The Ban has been calling for the National Trust. Forestry England and other major landowners to end their relationship with the hunts since 2017. The sickening footage of several hounds being shot dead by staff from the Duke of Beaufort Hunt only makes the case stronger.

What is "trail hunting" and why have major landowners given out "trail hunt" licences over the years?

Well since fox hunting was made illegal in 2004 the almost 300 registered hunts across the country have needed to create a way to get around the hunting ban. The solution was the notion of "trail hunting". The idea was that hunts would no longer chase and kill wildlife but follow an artificial based scent across the countryside. Anti-hunt campaigners have long claimed this supposedly new form of cruelty free alternative to traditional hunting is nothing more than a trail of lies and that it is a smokescreen to cover up the continuation of illegal fox hunting. In 2020 leading figures of the hunting lobby were caught on camera admitting to "trail hunting" being a smokescreen for fox hunting and the recently released footage of the Duke of Beaufort Hunt shooting their hounds is yet further irrefutable evidence that hunts do not "trail hunt" like they claim.

Why is the footage of the Duke of Beaufort Hunt shooting their hounds evidence that they do not trail hunt?

If hunts genuinely were following artificially laid trails  as opposed to pursuing live mammals then why would hunts have a need to shoot their hounds prior to the start of the hunting season? Even if a hound was deemed weaker or slower than other hounds, it would make little difference to the following of an artificial trail where speed is irrelevant. The reality is that these hounds are treated as nothing more than disposable tools trained to kill. These poor animals are bred into a life of cruelty and as soon as they are deemed no longer of use, whether that be due to not being strong or fit enough to keep up with the pack or for not having enough blood lust, they are shot and killed.

Background to our ongoing campaign to end hunting on National Trust land

Since 2017 Keep The Ban has drawn attention to the National Trust and their allowance of so-called ‘trail hunts’ to use their land.We set up a Petition which has since been signed by over 370,000 people and was later handed in to the National Trust in person. We then supported National Trust member Helen Beynon in her resolution calling on the Trust to permanently end all ‘trail hunt’ licences. This began a six-month campaign visiting National Trust sites and encouraging National Trust members to vote in favour of the resolution.

Image: 2017 Petition hand-in to the National Trust HQ calling on the landowner to revoke land use to "trail" hunts

Whilst the resolution was ultimately unsuccessful by a mere 300 votes out of around 60,000 (public vote in favour but lost due to discretionary votes) - it did result in major changes to how licenses are given out. The National Trust also created a dedicated team to deal with the issue of trail hunting and it has led to a significant reduction in the number of hunts using Trust land. In 2018, 25 licences were handed out to hunts but by 2019 this number had fallen by 64% to 9 hunts. Following the explosive leaked Hunting Office webinars last year, several major landowners temporarily suspended their "trail hunting" licences. Keep The Ban is now calling on the National Trust as well as other major landowners to turn these "trail hunt" suspensions into permanent ones.

There is a vote at this years' National Trust AGM where the nearly six million members can vote on a new resolution aimed at ending the licencing of so-called "trail hunts". We urge all members reading this to head to our National Trust campaign page to stay up to date with how they can vote to end hunting on National Trust land.

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban

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Keep The Ban is a non-profit organisation that campaigns to end wildlife persecution and we fund anti-hunting groups across the country such as the brilliant Hunt Investigation Team. We rely solely on our supporters and donations. If you'd like to support what we do please head to our shop or back us with a small donation.