1. ITV Report

Will trail fox hunting be banned on National Trust land?

Trail hunting: as close to fox hunting as possible. Photo: ITV News

The future of fox hunting in the region is once again in the spotlight after the National Trust announced plans to vote on whether to allow the modern form to take place on its land.

Trail hunting has been used since the Hunting Act was introduced in 2004, which banned the killing of foxes. It effectively simulates hunting but without foxes being deliberately chased of killed.

However a group of National Trust members believes that trail hunting is sometimes being used as a cover and that there is evidence of illegal hunting on National Trust land on a regular basis.

"I saw the fox and I saw the hunt coming towards the fox and I saw the hounds chasing it and I couldn't do anything. I jumped out of the van and I shouted at the huntsmen and they just carried on. I was horrified. It was like being in a different world that I didn't know existed." said National Trust member Helen Beynon.

  • Watch footage we filmed of a dog chasing a fox in a trail hunt. Shortly afterwards the dog was called back to the pack and the fox survived.
Master Huntsman Charlie Watts Credit: ITV News

However, Master Huntsman Charlie Watts says what they do is within the law. Mr Watts claims they always have permission of landowners whose woods and fields they cross, and that includes the National Trust.

"They own pockets of land in every area that we hunt in so to enable us to continue as we do at the moment, it's very important that we are still allowed access to the National Trust land. If we lose access to a lot of land we will have to rethink again about how we operate as a hunt actually so it's quite important that we are allowed access to the National Trust land under the present form or under the present licence."

Whatever the outcome of the vote on Saturday, the National Trust has already decided to make some changes to the terms of its trail hunting licences. Details of all hunt activity on National Trust land will have to be posted online in advance and trail hunts won't be able to use real fox scent anymore - only artificial scent can be laid to try to prevent hounds accidentally picking up the trail of a real fox.