Members of the National Trust have voted to ban track hunting because of fears it will be used as a “smoke glass” to hunt and kill foxes.
Path hunting involves people on foot or on horseback following a scent along a predetermined route with dogs or beagles, without foxes being deliberately chased or killed.
Voters who supported a proposal to ban the activity on trust land say “overwhelming evidence leads to the conclusion that ‘trail hunting’ is a cover for hunting with dogs”.
In Saturday’s vote, a total of 76,816 votes in favor of the ban were cast, with 38,184 votes against and 18,047 abstentions.
The board is expected to consider the result of the vote after Saturday’s ordinary general meeting – as it is only advisory and not legally binding.
Protesters from the UK-based animal welfare organization League Against Cruel Sports gathered outside the Harrogate Convention Center in North Yorkshire as the event was held in support of the ban.
Andy Knott, CEO of the charity, welcomed the result, saying: “Enough is enough. Now that membership has voted to permanently end it, we must insist that National Trust trustees listen and act.
“The trust must ban ‘track hunting’ on its land forever. Other landowners should take note and follow suit immediately.”
The Countryside Alliance, which campaigned against the proposal, however, said Saturday’s result represents a “small portion” of national membership and therefore does not provide a mandate.
The 2004 Hunting Act banned the hunting of wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales.
Last November, the National Trust and Forestry England suspended licenses for track hunting on their land in light of a police investigation of webinars involving hunters discussing practices.
The vote also comes several weeks after prominent hunter Mark Hankinson was convicted after giving advice on how to covertly carry out illegal fox hunting.
Hankinson, director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, was found guilty by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court of deliberately encouraging hunters to use legal trace hunting as “a hoax and a fiction” for illegal hunting and killing of animals via two webinars held last August . year.
The judge ordered him to pay £ 3,500 and concluded that he “clearly encouraged the fatamorgana by tracing to act as cover for old-fashioned illegal hunting”.
Polly Portwin, Countryside Alliance’s director of the hunting campaign, claimed that the adoption of the proposal “would totally undermine the Trust’s own motto: ‘for all, forever'”.
She said the alliance remains ready to work with confidence “to ensure that everyone can have confidence that trawling activity is open, transparent and legitimate”, adding that “there is absolutely no mandate to ban legal activity, which has been carried out on National Trust land for generations “.