POLL: Should hunting with hounds be banned?

POLL: Should hunting with hounds be banned?

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All with hounds on National Trust land could be banned in an unprecedented vote this autumn.

Trail hunting – in which hounds and riders follow a scent that was laid earlier – is still allowed on trust estates but has long been regarded by animal rights campaigners as a means of circumventing the hunting ban. Now 50 trust members, including the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, have endorsed a motion that will be debated at the trust’s AGM in October which would revoke all licences allocated to hunts.

“These hunts are still killing foxes, hares and stags – and they are being allowed to do so on National Trust land,” Fiennes said. “Hunting is despicable, cruel and has no justification in modern Britain. If the National Trust wants to truly preserve and protect our environment, it needs to stop condoning hunting, in any guise, immediately.”

A huntsman waits with his hounds before a trail hunt, where the dogs and riders follow a pre-laid scent rather than chase a fox. Photograph: Richard Ellis/Getty

A total of 79 annual licences were granted last year to applicants seeking to engage in trail hunting on trust lands, the organisation told the Observer. In accordance with the law, licences are granted on the understanding that the hunt simulates a traditional chase but without foxes being deliberately pursued or killed.

But according to the , which is working with the trust members behind the motion, hunts are being carried out as before the ban, with trail hunting providing “plausible deniability” to hunts when live animals end up being caught by hounds.

Philippa King, the league’s acting chief executive, said that the trust had been shown video footage of hunts chasing and killing stags on its lands and there appeared to be “no will” to stop it.

“We know the majority of people in this country want hunting to stay illegal, and we know they are shocked to find out it still goes on illegally,” she said. “The groundswell of public opinion against the National Trust allowing hunting is already massive and growing by the day, as more people realise it’s happening.”

The motion, put forward by Helen Beynon asks that her fellow members “agree that the National Trust must stop issuing licences for trail hunting, ‘exempt’ hunting, or allowing hunts to exercise their hounds on National Trust land, to prevent potential illegal activity in breach of the Hunting Act 2004 and to prevent damage to flora and fauna by the hunt, hounds and followers”. Challenged about trail hunting earlier this year during a talk at Nottingham Trent University, Dame Helen Ghosh, the departing head of the trust, said that the issue had generated a lot of correspondence on social media and that she knew of scores of members who had left because of the issue.

“I would imagine that there are other members who would take the other view,” added Ghosh, who will leave the trust next March and become the first woman master of Balliol College, Oxford.

“Our position on trail hunting is that we believe parliament should be the judge of what is legal activity. We allow all sorts of activity on our land if it is legal.”

The trust had suspended licences in the past when holders did not adhere to terms, she added, and it worked with police on prosecutions. They include the Melbreak Foxhounds in Cumbria. The licence was suspended earlier this year for a day after a hunt monitor was attacked by a man who was later convicted of assault. In January, the trust said it would review its agreement with a hunt whose hounds reportedly attacked an elderly couple and their dog on a beach in Cornwall.

A trust spokesperson said: “We can confirm a members’ resolution has been submitted for our annual general meeting in October calling for the cessation of trail hunting on National Trust land. Members will have the opportunity to vote on the resolution and discuss the matter at the AGM.”

Polly Portwin, head of hunting at the Countryside Alliance, said that trail hunting had been adopted by the majority of registered hunts following the Hunting Act being enforced from February 2005.

“Many National Trust members regularly follow hounds and it is disappointing that they are effectively being accused of breaking the law while trail-hunting,” she said.

“To ban legal hunting activities on the grounds of protecting flora and fauna would suggest that dog walking and exercising horses across National Trust land should also be banned. There is nothing to suggest that hunts are regularly breaking the law while trail hunting either on private land or that owned by the National Trust.”

She said Ministry of Justice data showed that of the 423 people convicted of offences under the Hunting Act since it came into force 12 years ago, more than 94% did not involve hunts and were largely related to and offences.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 20 Aug 2017.

We invite you to share your opinion whether hunting with hounds should be banned? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should hunting with hounds be banned?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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Dorothy Collins
Dorothy Collins

Hunting with hounds is the most natural, quick and sure way of never leaving a wounded fox and thereby maintaining a healthy fox population.

Sarah Mackenzie

I used to keep sheep, and the most effective way to keep predators down is by selective shooting. More humane, and don’t tell me that hunts don’t breed foxes. There would be very few of there was no hunting.

Charlotte Reynolds

The general populous has no idea what hunting with hounds is really like. It just sounds cruel. No one ever bothers to find out for themselves. The hunting community work endlesly to keep the fox population down and healthy. They also keep the countryside accessible to walkers and wildlife enthusiasts. I take offence at being called a criminal by a lower commentor. Far too many people think we are a load of hoodlems…. well we have more empathy for animals and all that the countryside has to offer us, than these seemingly ignorant commentators. We will never change their minds.… Read more »

Nick Rossi
Nick Rossi

You just like killing animals for fun. Dress it up all you like. “keep the fox population down and healthy”!!!!!!!!!! You believe people are fooled by this? Why has it been proved hunts breed foxes to hunt because there are not enough foxes to hunt? Why don’t you admit hunts shoot the hounds at end of their careers or if they don’t show they will be any good at hunting. And by the way, hunting is illegal so you have just proved you scum don’t take any notice of the ban. You and your ilk have a sickness. YES, YOU… Read more »

Patsy Smock Jones

Not banned only if it”s like a game with the hounds and not killing other animals in the process, Other wise ban it.

Catherine Walls

Hunting in general should be banned. All creatures are sentient beings and deserve to be treated as such!

Christine Hann

All hunting in the world should be outlawed. Why should man be superior to our wonderful wild life . Man is so up himself, I want to hunt I will. NO it is time to END this horrific so called SPORT .Leave our precious animals to the generations to come, so they can enjoy the beauty and knowledge God created them for everyone NOT THE FEW. Please put a mandatory STOP the KILLING of defenceless animals of all kinds in all parts of the earth and sea. Thank you. UK.

Simon Tucker

The simple fact is that the law was badly drafted and these criminals have exploited the loopholes left by the law to keep hunting. Because these criminals keep flouting the law I support a total ban on hunting. Had they stuck to the law and carried out drag hunting (trail hunting is an obscene con) I would not advocate a total ban but, because of their criminality and the levels of collusion by the police and the judiciary, I do now.

Margarita Boggiss

Get your facts right ….Foxes are not cut cuddly animals ! They are vermin and predators who will kill for the fun of it. As such they need to be culled and Hunting is the best and most natural way.

Tony Webber

The only “Vermin” are the filth that kill innocent beautiful Foxes. They were here before the “human race”. Nobody has the right to kill any other life on the planet because it doesn’t suit them

Simon Tucker

We have our facts right: foxes were imported frfom the continent by hunts to give them something to hunt, until anti-rabies legislation put an end to it. Foxes are opportunistic killers – and farmers / smallholders who give them the opportunity are not fit to have livestock. Arable farmers should love foxes, as they help control the numbers of rabbits, rats and mice that destroy their crops and stored products. I am always amazed at how many blonde bimbos support hunting: it is terrible to see sexual stereotyping come true.

Catherine Walls

Are you having a laugh at the poor animal’s expense?

Evelyn Ball

The only vermin on this planet are humans especially someone like yourself with such an arrogant attitude!!! Foxes like any other species have every right to be here. If any animal needs culling it is our species. We are overpopulated but don’t do a damn thing about it but we seem to think we have the right to kill any other species because they inconvenience idiots like yourself. The fact that you show no sympathy towards an animal being killed doesn’t say much about you as a human being. You need a swift kick in the ass off the pedestal… Read more »

Denise Taylor
Denise Taylor

Polly Portwin commented that the majority of hunts adopted trail hunting. The hunt in my area purported to do this, but before they latched on to trail hunting to obfuscate, they tried to get round the law by “hunting” with an Eagle owl. What I actually witnessed was a fox being ripped apart outside my home in Warwickshire, and the hunt, seeing that they did indeed have witnesses then brought out the owl – after the event! The hunt was quite blatantly and clearly hunting the fox with hounds and pursued the poor creature over two large fields but cornering… Read more »


84% on the poll agree it should be banned! It’s barbaric, cruel, outdated and anyone wanting to class ripping a live animal apart as fun! Is sick!

Jan Ash

It should be made clear to everyone that HUNTING SHOULD BE BANNED.

Carlo Gilmour

Err. It is banned already! Haven’t you heard?

Richard Knisely-Marpole

Trail hunting is legal, but hunts pretend they are doing this and “accidentally” murder a wild animal. It is the banning of trail hunting on NT land that is coming up for a vote at the next NT AGM

Carlo Gilmour

Interesting viewpoint. What is being suggested then is to ban a legal activity because there is the belief that people might be using this legal activity to hide the fact that they are doing an illegal activity.

Graham Shepherd

Carlo Gilmour “BELIEVE that they MIGHT BE” ???
They bloody well are using it as a cover. We know that, they know that, they know that we know that, and I suspect you know that, though you still want to pretend otherwise.

Simon Tucker

Graham Shepherd Look at his facebook profile: he is a typical see you next Tuesday and apologist for all things rightwing and fascistic

Carlo Gilmour

Simon, so it is political and reverse snobbery rather than wildlife welfare for you?

Maureen RichardsMBE
Maureen RichardsMBE

Of course it should be banned it is a Cruel so called sport which is long overdue to be Stopped

Racety Thair

You hunt, you are a c*nt. Accept it! 85% of the public hate you!

Alan Petrie

Yes ban it completely. My wife and I are both members and will be voting for the ban.

Susan McCauley

YES … ban the hounds … they do not deserve to be used as weaponry

Connie Wessel


Linda Badham
Linda Badham

of course all killing should be banned


Yes hunting with hounds should be banned -it is barbaric and the people who use the hounds have no conscience what so ever – to think they can enjoy watching their dogs tearing a poor animal apart and laughing over it is horrible. they know when those dogs are barking and chasing that some poor fox or other animal is running terrified, knowing it is going to be killed – these people are not affected by that at all – they have no conscience -Please ban all hunting with hounds – they are now going after wolves as well as… Read more »

Wendé Anne Maunder

According to your poll, at the time of posting this comment, the number of people opposed to hunting is 4% up on the number posted below. Ipsos MORI interviewed a nationally representative quota sample of 1,986 adults in Great Britain aged 15+. Interviews were carried out face-to-face, in home, using CAPI (Computer Aided Personal Interviewing Laptops), as part of the Ipsos MORI Omnibus (Capibus). Fieldwork was conducted between 2nd and 11th August 2016. The results have been weighted to reflect the known profile of the adult population. An Ipsos MORI poll1 commissioned by animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel… Read more »

Anita Sayers

Hunting should be banned…………..PERIOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pamela Bass

All hunting should be banned period.

Bunni Merk

hunting period should be banned!