Our position on field sports
The Hunting Act 2004 made hunting wild animals with dogs illegal and it is banned on all public and privately–owned land in England and Wales. National Trust land is no exception.
The Hunting Act did allow what is known as ‘trail hunting’ to continue. Trail hunting involves laying a scent for hunts to follow, effectively simulating a traditional hunt but without foxes being deliberately chased or killed. The National Trust does license trail hunts in some areas and at certain times of the year, where it is compatible with our aims of public access and conservation. We expect our licence holders to comply fully with the law and the terms of our licence.
Access to our land
One of our core purposes is to promote access to our land and to enable that we licence a huge range of activities on our land; from running and mountain biking to festivals and food markets. We expect licence holders for all of the activities that we licence to adhere to the terms of their licence and any regulation covering their activity. Staff will, as part of their normal duties, deal with any breaches they observe. We treat trail hunting in the same way.
We will, and have, taken strong action (including suspension, revoking and refusing to grant further licences) against licence holders who breach their licence conditions or the law. Our assessment of how hunts are performing against their licence conditions includes cross-checking their reports to us with those of people who wish to monitor their activities and with our own staff’s observations. Anyone who has information that the law has been broken should contact the local police force as the proper investigating authority in the first instance.
The approved trail hunting dates have ended for this licence period. We do not currently hold a central register of all the historic licences that have been issued. We are reviewing our processes for how we issue licences, record activity and share information about trail hunting.
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