Our position on trail hunting
Hunting wild animals was outlawed in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004: National Trust land is no exception.
The law does allow what is known as trail ‘hunting’ to continue. This activity involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.
The 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 believe the overwhelming majority of hunts act responsibly, and we hope our clear, robust, and transparent set of conditions will allow participants to enjoy a version of this legal activity that’s compatible with our conservation aims.
Any activity associated with the term ‘hunting’ continues to provoke strong emotions on both sides of the debate. We recognise our reforms will not satisfy everyone.
Our charity’s core aim is to look after the places in our care and that remains our top priority when considering whether to license any outdoor activity. This would be true whether it’s mountain biking or a food festival.
But our charity was also established for the nation’s benefit and to provide the widest spectrum of public access and enjoyment. We therefore always look to welcome people to our places and to host the broadest range of outdoor activities on our land.
We believe this should include trail ‘hunting’, where it is consistent with our conservation aims and is legally pursued.
Following a review of the changes that we made to the way we license trail hunts in 2017 we have further enhanced our approach to managing and monitoring trail hunts on our land.
Our changes include:
- Tightening up the information available on our website, including details of specific licensed dates and the areas of Trust land on which hunts are permitted
- The creation of a national Trail Hunt Management Team to provide additional guidance and support to local teams
- The introduction of formal monitoring of hunts on the ground, led by this new team
These measures, in addition to those introduced ahead of the 2017-18 trail hunting season, reaffirm the importance of adherence to licence conditions and enable us to further safeguard our commitments to both conservation and access.
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