Does the National Trust's vote to ban hunting spell the beginning of the end for the sport?

Credit: The League Against Cruel Sports

Is hunting finished for good? Not yet but many, including those within the sport, think it’s heading towards the end.

Saturday's National Trust members' vote to ban "trail hunting, exempt hunting and hound exercise on National Trust land" represents a seismic shift in the members view on the issue.

In what will be seen as crushing defeat for the Countryside Alliance, who try to campaign in favour of the sport, National Trust members voted by two to one in favour of distancing themselves from it.

The problem now for those who hunt is a raft of other large landowners, who have currently suspended hunting, may choose to use the National Trust vote as a gauge of public opinion and follow suit.

Forestry England, the National Trust and United Utilities are still reviewing the activity. 

Trail Hunting, where fox hounds follow an artificially laid scent, was introduced in response to the ban on fox hunting in 2005 but it has been recently exposed as “sham” in court.

Mark Hankinson was a director of the Hunting Office. Credit: ITV News

At the start of October one of Britain’s leading huntsman Mark Hankinson was convicted of encouraging those in his sport to break the law by using trail hunting as a “smokescreen” for fox hunting. 

Since then the Countryside Alliance attendance at meetings of the National Wildlife Crime Unit has been put under review after their representative was suspended following comments he made “relating to illegal fox hunting”. 

Now National Trust members have spoken and the message they have delivered could not be clearer.