Shropshire Star

National Trust stands by hunting policy after Shropshire protests

The National Trust has today stood by its decision to allow hunting on its estates.

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Fox hunting - a polarised issue

Protestors took to the hills of south Shropshire to demonstrate against fox hunting at the Trust's Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd estate claiming that hunts are still killing British wildlife on its lands.

But the National Trust said today that it has listened to both sides of the argument and is happy for the protests to continue.

A spokesman for the National Trust said: "We have been carefully listening to both sides of a highly polarised and passionate debate around trail-hunting for years.

"People have the legal right to organise demonstrations and express their views.

"We accept these protests on our land, provided they are respectful and do not interfere with conservation or access for our visitors."

The protest was arranged by National Dis-Trust and backed by the Animal Welfare Party, Shropshire Against the Cull, Cheshire Against the Cull, Keeptheban, Welsh Border Hunt Saboteurs and the League Against Cruel Sports.

The groups have concerns that hunting is still taking place on National Trust land 14 years after it was banned nationwide.

Hunts introduced trail hunting after the ban was introduced, where hounds follow a pre-laid trail rather than chasing animals. However activists claim that some animals still die in trail hunts.

A spokesperson for National Dis-Trust, said: “Serious questions hang over the National Trust about how it has handled its hunt licensing system, including ignoring numerous wildlife crime convictions amongst licensed hunts and providing a misleading statement to members at its 2017 AGM.

“We are protesting about the decision to license both the South Shropshire Foxhounds and the United Pack.

"At least one of the hunts has trespassed across a local nature reserve which wouldn’t happen on a ‘trail’ hunt. The access for these two needs to be revoked, and the foxes need to be properly protected by the National Trust.”

Despite fox hunting being banned in England and Wales in 2004, campaigners say they are concerned that thousands of animals are still being targeted and killed every year by hunts.

A campaign to ban ‘trail’ hunting on National Trust land was narrowly defeated at the organisation’s annual general meeting last autumn.

Chris Luffingham, League Against Cruel Sports' director of campaigns, said: “Many people are frustrated and angered by the National Trust and their inaction to properly monitor hunt activity and the priority they appear to be giving to the protection of hunts rather than the protection of wildlife.

“The Trust is letting down its members and the British public.

“If they have any respect for their members or their reputation, they should take this issue more seriously than they are at present.”

A Countryside Alliance spokesman said: “The National Trust has a strict licensing procedure that hunts adhere to in order to ensure their licences are renewed on an annual basis.

"Trail hunting is a perfectly legal activity which complies with the Trust’s policy and considering there have been over a quarter of a million days hunting since the inception of the Hunting Act in February 2005 - with just 24 convictions during that time - this does not provide the evidence to back-up the views of this handful of activists who claim that hunts are regularly breaking the law.”

A petition has been launched called ‘Stop the Killing of Animals by Hunts’ by the League Against Cruel Sports - you can see it here.