The West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris has joined campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports at Dyrham Park to call on the National Trust to stop allowing trail hunting on its land.
Volunteers and staff from the animal welfare charity and Mr Norris spoke to people visiting the 17th century house and garden and urged them to take action and sign up to the campaign.
Hunting wild mammals with dogs was banned in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004. The law does allow trail hunting to continue which involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds.
Mr Norris said: “The way we treat animals is a measure of how civilised a society we are, and there is no place in our society for so-called ‘trail hunting’ – on land owned by the National Trust or anyone else.
“Getting the fox hunting ban through Parliament remains one of the best things I helped achieve as a Labour MP. It was tough and I personally experienced violent opposition from pro-hunt thugs.
“The law is being undermined by those who continue to hunt, and a vote by National Trust members to stop licensing hunting on National Trust land will be a big step forward in abolishing this cruel and inhumane practice.”
Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We spoke to a lot of people from around Bath and Bristol today, including National Trust members, and we got a really good welcome.
“Many people enthusiastically signed up to our campaign calling on the National Trust to stop fox hunting on its land for good.”
The day of action at Dyrham Park is one of a series of League actions taking place across the country ahead of the National Trust’s AGM in October, when there will be a vote in which members will get the chance to call for a permanent ban on the licensing of trail hunting.
Nick added: “It is evident that tragically fox hunting is still taking place across England and Wales despite the ban, so we are calling on the National Trust to stop licensing trail hunts on its land once and for all.”
Fox hunts have come under the spotlight recently after senior figures within the hunting lobby were caught seeming to admit that trail hunting is a ‘smokescreen’ for the chasing and killing of animals.
The National Trust paused the licensing of trail hunting after this, but campaigners now want the ban made permanent.
In the 2019/20 season, the League Against Cruel Sports compiled figures revealing 485 separate eye-witness accounts of suspected illegal hunting.
Through much of 2020, hunting activities were disrupted by lockdown restrictions. However the League still gathered figures showing 300 suspected cases of suspected illegal hunting during the cub hunting season in the autumn, although this is not something that is licensed by the National Trust.
The National Trust says it has been listening carefully to both sides of a “highly polarised and passionate debate” around trail hunting and will be considering a number of issues before reviewing its position.
The photo show Dan Norris and his dog Angel with League Against Cruel Sports campaigner Paul Barker at Dyrham Park
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