Hunting on National Trust Land

There has been much criticism of the National Trust over the years regarding their licensing of hunts on their land, who then go on to illegally chase wildlife and claim it was an accident.


National Trust Statement  :  Hunting wild mammals with dogs was banned in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004: National Trust land is no exception. The law does allow what is known as trail hunting to continue. This activity involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.


“Our staff will be carrying out on the ground monitoring of licensed trail hunting, including random scent sampling and unannounced spot checks as they have done in previous seasons. If any of the terms of our licence agreements are proven to have been breached during these checks, we will take strong, immediate action with the relevant group. In the 2019/20 season we monitored 75% of licensed dates and 80% of licensed groups. All scent samples were laboratory tested to confirm they were non-animal based as per our licence conditions. As we licence groups, information including the dates and the licensed area are published on our website”.


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The National Trust have made various claims and promises regarding how they regulate and licence “Trail Hunting” which they allow on NT land.


1.  NT claim  :  The Trust insists, “Trail Hunting” is a legal activity and maintains trail hunting follows a non animal based scent along a pre determined route.

We say  :  This is actually misleading as only genuine drag hunts use an artificial scent and follow a pre determined route.  Trail hunts claim they purposely do not follow a pre-determined route to replicate traditional hunting and continue to use animal based scents in readiness for the repeal of the Hunting Act.

Summary : Trail hunting is just a name made up by hunts as a guise for traditional hunting. It’s a shame the NT have bought into this fake name guise and enable illegal hunting to continue. Only the very gullible or those with an agenda to see hunting continue would be part of this blatantly obvious lie.

Question :  Why are the NT still licensing an activity which results in wildlife being illegally chased?


2.  NT claim  :  They do not allow illegal hunting on our land.

We say  :  Then why are hunts still chasing and killing wildlife on NT land and if hunts really were being monitored by the trust, why is this still happening?

Anti hunt monitors have collected masses of evidence over many years to prove hunts are still hunting wildlife which has been presented to the NT, but ignored.

This tired old copy & paste excuse the NT keep sending out is wearing rather thin. They may not direct licence illegal hunting, but they certainly enable it by failing to properly regulate the hunts they licence, especially hunts who already have convictions for illegal hunting.

Summary : Allowing hunts on NT land, the trust is enabling illegal hunting to continue under the guise of a made up name “Trail Hunting”. Hunts continue to break the law by chasing wildlife, then claiming it was an accident.

Question :  How many accidents are the NT going to allow before hunting is banned?


3.  NT claim :  The NT claim their staff carry out ground monitoring of licensed trail hunts and 75% of hunts are monitored.

We say : It’s a pity they don’t ever seem to be around monitoring hunts when these hunts are chasing and killing wild animals.  

Summary : It’s a shame the NT don’t back up this claim by allowing independent monitors to ensure : a) The NT is actually doing what they claim to be doing. b) Hunts are actually staying within the law as they claim.

Public monitors report they rarely see NT staff monitoring hunts. 

Question :  Can the NT provide proof they monitor 75% of licenced hunting dates?


4.  NT claim  :  Licensed groups, information including the dates and the location are published on our website.

We say  :  Why have the NT backtracked and only the general area is now published? The public need to know the hunts route plan so they can avoid these areas and stay safe. This proves the NT or hunts have no risk assessment in place to ensure the public are kept safe.

Dog walkers have had their pets attacked by hunting hounds, but still the NT refuse to publish location as promised. 

Summary : There have been a number of incidents where hounds have attacked pets being walked. 

Question :  What is the NT policy to ensure the public are warned about hunts being in the area?


5.  NT claim  :  We no longer publish exact locations (even though we promised this). 

Under police advice and to avoid confrontation with monitors we withdrew this information.

We say  :  If hunts were genuinely trail hunting, there would be no need for monitors to intervene. Only when hunts are seen breaking the law and illegally chasing wildlife,  “only then” monitors will intervene to stop this.

Summary : The NT promised its members that the location of hunts would be published. Regardless of their backtrack reasons, they have failed to ensure this. The public have a right to feel safe and not have their pets attacked by hunt hounds. Publishing the exact location allows members of the public to avoid the location.

Question :  Would it not be a better policy to ensure hunts are not chasing wildlife and ban trail hunting completely to ensure there are no wildlife kills. This would eliminate any confrontation?


6.   NT claim  :  They will stop terriermen (used to dig out hunted foxes gone to ground).

We say  :  Why have they backtracked on their promise and ensure terriermen are not present or ensure terriermen are not carrying tools to illegally dig out foxes.

Summary :  The NT have completely failed to ensure terriermen are banned as promised.

Question :  Will the NT clarify their position on this and can they now ensure they will actually ban terriermen on NT land?


7.  NT claim  :  They do random scent sampling and unannounced spot checks.

We say  :  As very few (if any) trail hunts actually use a pre-laid scent, (they just claim they do), this seems highly unlikely, also any old fool can just hand in a bottle of scent and claim they are using this. Hunts should be correctly monitored to ensure they are actually laying a trail with the scent they claim they are using and hounds are staying on this scent trail route. 

Summary :  The NT is failing to monitor hunts effectively to ensure this.

Question :  How can the NT verify that all licensed hunts are using an artificial non animal based scent and they are actually laying a trail?


8.  NT claim  :  All scent samples were laboratory tested to confirm they were non-animal based as per our licence conditions.

We say  :  It has been confirmed many times that hunts who actually do bother to lay a trail (very few, if any) continue to use a natural animal based scent to ensure hounds are kept ready for foxhunting should the ban ever be repealed.

Drag hunts tend to use an artificial scent, which explains why drag hunts have very few accidents.

Summary : Sending scent samples for testing that hunts have handed in, actually proves nothing. Anyone can hand in a sample. Until the NT can prove that hunts are using the scent they claim to be, this laboratory tested statement holds little weight.

Question :  Can the NT confirm how many samples they have collected and if these can be directly linked back to evidence of hunts using these scents to lay a trail?



9.  NT claim  :  If any of the terms of our licence agreement are breached, we will take strong, immediate action.

We say  :  Why have hunts that have been caught breaching these terms and even prosecuted, still allowed to continue to use NT land.

Does “strong, immediate action” mean they will just continue to grant licences to these hunts?

Summary : Large amounts of evidence proves hunts are continuing to breach licence terms and the NT are once again failing to take action.

Question :  Can the NT confirm what action they have taken on breached agreements and if they have proceeded to license these hunts again?



10.  NT claim  :  The NT claim they do not issue licences to hunts that have been convicted of illegal hunting.

We say  :  When the NT first made this statement, it was pointed out to them that they were actually issuing licences to hunts who have been prosecuted for illegal hunting. The NT quickly backtracked and amended their statement to read “We do not issue licences to any hunts who have been prosecuted for illegal hunting on NT land”.

Summary : Regardless of the illegal hunting happening on NT or not, the NT should not be issuing licences to hunts who have received a conviction under the Hunting Act. This is rewarding illegal hunting.

Question :  Why are the NT issuing licences to hunts who have proved they are unable to stay within the law and have been found guilty of illegal hunting?


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Trail hunting is just a name made up by hunts as a guise for traditional hunting. 

By enabling illegal hunting on their land, the NT are breaking the law themselves and also an accomplice to a crime regardless of their “get out clause” licence agreement.


This is probably why the NT go to great lengths to cover and deny illegal hunting on their land as the law states any land owner is guilty of an offence if they allow illegal hunting on their land. 


The National Trust facilitating illegal hunting on their land is harming the reputation of a great charity. 

Trail hunting is a sham and brings the whole of the NT into disrepute when they partake in this sham knowing full well that trail hunting is a lie and guise for illegal hunting.

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