In recent days it has been revealed that The Defence Infrastructure Organisation has granted 11 new "trail hunting" licences for the 2021-22 season. The news comes after Shadow DEFRA minister Luke Pollard asked Ben Wallace MP about the licencing of hunting on MOD land. Wallace's response on 27th October revealed that the licencing of hunts continued throughout the pandemic and that 11 licences were in place for the current season.

In 2018/19 the Ministry of Defence gave out 21 licences to hunts to use their land, in 2019/20 26 licences were given out and in 2020/21 19 licences were given out. According to the Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace permission for hunts to operate on MOD land is via a licence issued to a specific hunt. The news comes after the landmark vote carried out by the National Trust which saw an overwhelming majority support a members' resolution to end the licencing of so-called "trail hunts" on National Trust land. It goes without saying that it has long been time major landowners stood up to the hunts and ended the sham that is "trail hunting" which is nothing but a smokescreen for illegal fox hunting.

It is incredibly disappointing to see that the Ministry of Defence continues to allow hunts to use their land despite an abundance of evidence which shows this pastime to be nothing but a coverup for the cruel and barbaric slaughter of wildlife.

Is change coming?

Since writing this article several landowners have taken the decision to end the licencing of hunts on their land. The list includes the National Trust after the board of trustees met to ratify the outcome of the members' resolution being passed by a 2:1 majority as well as Natural Resources Wales who are the biggest landowner in Wales. The National Trust cited the following reasons for their decision:

- A loss of trust and confidence in the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), which governs trail hunting

-The vote by National Trust members at its recent AGM

-The considerable resources needed to facilitate trail hunting

-The reputational risk of this activity continuing on National Trust land

The Malvern Hills Trust have also ended the licencing of hunts on their land.

It is therefore surprising and shocking that the Ministry of Defence continues to licence hunts on their land despite the abundance of evidence that the pastime of "trail hunting" is nothing but a "smokescreen" for illegal fox hunting. We're asking people to write in to the MOD and ask them to permanently end all hunting licences with immediate effect.

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban

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