National Trust Slammed For Allowing Hunters To Ride On Land At Calke Abbey
The National Trust has come under fire from animal lovers after hunters with packs of hounds were given permission to ride across land at Calke Abbey. The League Against Cruel Sports, a national animal welfare charity, has written to the Trust in a bid to block the Quorn Hunt from its land. The Trust has also been asked to explain what measures have been put in place to keep wild animals on the estate safe. But the Trust insists that no permission has been given for hunting on the land.
It says the Leicestershire-based hunt has been given permission to cross a section of the estate's land, but cannot hunt on it.
The pressure group says it is worried about how wild animals may be affected if horses, hounds and their followers are given free access to sections of the Calke Abbey estate , including conversation areas.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "The Calke Abbey estate is a local treasure which showcases British nature at its best.
"Allowing a hunt to trample across the land, taking part in an activity which many people believe involves the killing of animals, completely goes against that philosophy. With over 85 per cent of the public opposing all forms of hunting wild animals with hounds - including a considerable number of National Trust members and visitors to properties like the Calke Abbey estate - it is high time the conservation body provided protection to wildlife by stopping licensing hunting on its land. It's sad that this licence has been issued. But now it's been done, the National Trust estate need to show their members and the public how they will ensure that animals are safe on their land. We need to hear from them as to exactly how they will prevent foxes being killed by the hunt."
Hunting wild animals was made illegal in 2004 under the Hunting Act, which made hunting mammals such as foxes, deer, hares and mink with dogs a crime.
"The law does not, however, cover the use of dogs in flushing out an unidentified wild mammal or trail hunting, where hounds are trained to follow an artificial scent."
On their website, the National Trust states they issue annual licences to trail hunts, a legal activity where an artificial scent is laid and then followed by a pack of hounds and people on foot or horseback.
The Trust has also claimed to have brought in measures to make sure hunts do not kill animals on their land, such as spot checks to check they are acting legally - but the bosses at the League Against Cruel Sports believe these are not adequate, as the hunts are given 24 hours' notice of the checks.
Chris Luffingham added: "Giving hunts 24 hours' notice that they will be watched is like telling a burglar which house is being staked out by the police. It's a nonsense and reflects the half-hearted and ineffectual way in which the National Trust has approached this serious problem."
Three hunting licences issued by the National Trust at estates in Hertfordshire, Shropshire and Surrey have already been cancelled following public pressure.
A spokesman for the National Trust said: "We've issued a licence for the Quorn Hunt to ride across a short section of our land only, we have not issued a licence for them to trail hunt. 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 a version of this legal activity that’s compatible with our conservation aims. Hunting wild animals was outlawed in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004: National Trust land is no exception."