The National Trust breaks with tradition as hunting stops in its Lake District estates

Hounds in Lake District and National Trust logo
Glen Black

A recently released document reveals that large sections of the Lake District will be free from hunting this year.

Not welcome

On 28 September, anti-hunting coalition Stop Hunting on the Nation’s Land declared support for a decision not to license trail hunting on one of the National Trust’s Lake District estates. In a document seen by The Canary, a Lakeland parish council meeting said that “no [trail hunting licence] applications have been received for the… area” before 25 September. It also wasn’t expecting any before the 30 September deadline.

Crucially, however, it pointed out that:

the National Trust confirmed that if any applications were to be received the National Trust would be minded to refuse them given the behaviour of the packs in 2018.

And, as a result:

any trail hunting or other hunting activity that is [witnessed] on National Trust land is unlicensed and therefore is a trespass

This means fell packs will not be welcomed onto about one-quarter of the Lake District National Park during the 2019/20 season.

The real problem

Stop Hunting on the Nation’s Land told The Canary that it’s:

fully supportive of the National Trust’s decision to withhold hunting licences from the fell packs, following last year’s incidents in the Lake District. Although none of the fell packs had applied for a licence from the National Trust last year, there were many incidents of trespass and a witnessed kill on National Trust land in the Lake District.

The Canary reported on 7 October that Long Mynd, a National Trust estate in Shropshire, would also be hunting-free this year. With two of the charity’s estates choosing not to issue licences, Stop Hunting on the Nation’s Land said:

We hope that the National Trust will expand this into a nationwide decision as more reports and footage of illegal hunting on Trust land become available in the forthcoming season. We also hope that the National Trust are able to take action against trespassing hunts that continue to intimidate visitors and persecute wildlife.

In November 2018, the Times reported that the “risk of attack” by hunt saboteurs led fell packs not to apply for trail hunting licences during the 2018/19 season. Neil Salisbury, secretary of the Central Committee of Fell Packs, said at the time that:

We have busloads of masked thugs coming up here, going into farmyards, they are going into small villages and it is intimidation and harassment

But this latest news shows that hunts are the ones causing problems for landowners in the Lake District.

The Canary contacted the National Trust for comment but hadn’t received one at the time of publication.

Breaking from tradition

Fell packs hunt foxes on foot rather than horseback due to the region’s terrain. They have a long history in the area, most famously through children’s author Beatrix Potter’s support for the Coniston Foxhounds. Potter then handed the land she owned over to the National Trust after her death.

Therefore, the charity’s break from the fell packs is a strong indictment of the hunts. We should commend the National Trust estates that recognised and reacted to this bad behaviour. But the charity also needs a similarly critical eye of hunts at a national level. And until that happens, the campaign to end hunting on public land won’t stop.

Featured image via Facebook – Lancashire Huntsabs

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