Taya Black takes a look into the dark, illicit and controversial world of fox hunting and asks should you trust the National Trust…
Whether you live in a bustling concrete jungle and dream of escaping to a calmer, greener environment, abundant with wildlife for a weekend away, or are lucky enough to have one of these sites of natural beauty on your doorsteps, we are all aware of the National Trust and the preservation and protection of wildlife this charity claim to champion.
However, in light of recent events that have sinisterly surfaced, it seems your National Trust membership could be funding more a lot than just critical conservation efforts; it might just be providing a hidden sanctuary for illegal live quarry hunts under the guise of trail hunting.
Trail hunting did not exist before the Hunting Act (2004), but it is lawful and is designed to replicate a traditional hunt as much as possible, but at a slower and supposedly more controlled pace. It involves artificially laying an animal-based scent, such as fox urine*, and consequently simulating a search for said scent along a pre-prepared route.
(*According to the Masters of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association (MDBA) the reason given for using animal-based scents in a ‘seemingly harmless trail hunt’ is simply if the Hunting Act is repealed then the hounds would not need to be re-trained. It’s worth noting that fox urine is also illegal to import into this country…)
The Masters of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association (MDBA), also state that there are a number of idealistic measures they can implement to prevent any ‘accidents’, namely the inhumane murder of animals, from happening during a trail hunt, which apparently could not be controlled during a traditional faster hunt.
This includes avoiding laying scents in areas where hunts traditionally took place before due to the known location of live quarry, and also by knowing the exact route the dogs will take it is easier to position supporters who can watch the hunt and stop any dogs who may stray onto the scent nearby of live quarry.
Yet on the 14th January 2017, during a ‘lawful trail hunt’ on National Trust property, the Cury Hunt party lost control of their hounds who then reportedly attack an elderly couple and their dog who were walking on Church Cove beach, Gunwalloe, near Helston in Cornwall.
Julian Parrott, of Helston, who witnessed the attack said: “We could hear the hounds baying as if for blood. We saw a greyhound running for its life on the beach being pursued by the pack of hounds, with inept efforts by the huntsmen to keep them under control.”
The Cury Hunt incident poses a just few questions on how affective the MDBA trail hunt precautions really are, and what’s preventing a pack of hounds that are on an artificially laid scent trail from deriving off when they pick up the scent of a real animal just like they did on Church Cove beach with the greyhound?
In regards to fox hunting, just like 84% of British people (IPSOS Poll), the National Trust appear to take a firm stance against live quarry hunts and have stated on their website: “The Hunting Act 2004 made hunting wild animals with dogs illegal and it is banned on all public and privately–owned land in England and Wales. National Trust land is no exception.”
The National trust boast to look after and ‘protect’ the wildlife on more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, yet this is also where trail hunts are allowed to take place and can provide a legitimate cover for those Hunts wishing to abuse the law and continue in partaking in the barbaric blood sport.
Pro Hunting Act supporters and #KeepTheBan activists are constantly campaigning to revoke the trail hunt licenses as more and more hunt parties are becoming exposed for taking advantage of the loop-hole in the law which are effectively being facilitated by the National Trust.
It’s time to question, for the sake of an outdated, illegal and cruel tradition, is trail hunting really necessary, and do the National Trust really deserve your donations?