Animal welfare campaigners today urged councils to ban hunts from their land. Fox hunting was outlawed in February 2005 following a vote in Parliament. But trail hunting, where where riders and hounds follow a scent along a pre-determined route, is allowed.
It is meant to replicate a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, maimed or killed. But activists claim it is simply cover for hunts to pursue and kill foxes – and want hunts stopped from using council-owned land.
The League Against Cruel Sports says it has compiled 677 reports of suspected illegal fox hunting witnessed by members of the public during the last fox hunting and cub hunting season alone.
Campaigns director Chris Luffingham said: “Despite the fox hunting ban, 294 hunts are still operating in the British countryside, and yet sadly they are still chasing and brutally killing foxes which their hounds literally tear apart.
“We need to deny the hunts the land they need for their cruel bloodsport so we’re calling on the public to contact their local councils and propose they take a stand and ban hunting on their land.”
Nottinghamshire County Council last year banned trail hunting on its property.
The League hopes other local authorities will follow.
In 2017, it urged National Trust members to vote to ban trail hunts using its land.
But the attempt was foiled by 299 votes, with 30,686 members voting for the proposal and 30,985 against.
Mr Luffingham added: “Now that hunting season is upon us again, I am concerned about the damage it will do to the environment, people, wildlife and our relationship with nature.
“It’s time to ban hunting on public land.”
But hunt supporters attacked the plan – and accused campaigners of trying to wage “class war”.
Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “It demonstrates a staggering lack of self-awareness by the League Against Cruel Sports that they would seriously seek to waste vital council time and public resources during a pandemic on unjustly attacking people following trails across the countryside.
“Yet again, opponents of trail hunting are putting forward bogus, spurious claims to justify their class war agenda.
“Where these challenges do appear, we will stand up for rural communities and ensure trail hunting continues.”
A Local Government Association source said: “It’s down to the individual councils as to whether this is an issue in their area and action needs to be taken.”
Labour called for a beefed-up law to protect animals.
Shadow Environment Secretary Luke Pollard said: “Fifteen years ago Labour banned fox hunting in a huge victory for animal welfare.
“Now the ban needs to be strengthened, so we can consign this outdated practice to the history books for good.”
This article was first published by The Mirror on 12 October 2020. Lead Image: Hunts can use council land (Image: Getty).
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