We are introducing changes in the way we license trail ‘hunts’ this year following an in-depth review of our current processes and procedures. Our updated approach aims to further safeguard conservation and access by producing a clear, robust, and transparent set of conditions for licensing.
The changes include:
- Banning the use of animal-based scents as a trail for hounds or beagles to follow. This will reduce the risk of foxes or other wild animals being accidentally chased.
- Prohibit the presence of terriermen, who have no practical purpose on a trail ‘hunt’, and the use of their vehicles.
- More active management of hunts and how they operate including: mandatory reporting requirements after each meet; the provision of specified maps/areas; and requiring at the time of application details of all proposed hunt days.
- Probing the track record of each applicant and establishing a consistent charging regime across Trust land.
- Greater transparency for our members and the public. We will post on our website the agreed days and locations, in advance, for our members and supporters to view. This will include a primary point of contact for each hunt.
- We are exploring how we can work more closely with the Police’s independent National Wildlife Crime Unit, which is the proper authority for handling alleged breaches in wildlife legislation.
The Hunting Act of 2004
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 this activity in compatibility 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.
See more on Trail Hunting.