Furious animal welfare activists protested outside National Trust [NT] properties this weekend, claiming that hunts are 'still illegally chasing and killing British wildlife' on the organization's lands.
The nationwide protests, which took place at 20 different sites, were arranged by campaigning group National Dis-Trust and backed by the League Against Cruel Sports [LACS].
According to the organizations: "Anger at the charity has grown over the last few months with many furious that hunts with a history of killing animals are still being allowed on Trust land."
A campaign to ban 'trail' hunting on National Trust land was narrowly defeated at the organization's AGM last autumn.
NT bosses gave discretionary votes to back the continuation of the activity.
It is widely believed that 'trail' hunting is a fraudulent cover for illegal hunting activity and the chasing and ripping apart of foxes, hare and deer by packs of hounds.
The National Trust laid down some conditions to try and address concerns around the activities of hunts - for example banning terriermen (who have no practical application at a trail hunt) and sharing details of licensed hunts.
The Trust has now reneged on these conditions.
A LACS advert about hunting
A spokesperson for National Dis-Trust, said: "Today we joined 20 other wildlife protection organisations to protest the continuation of so-called 'trail hunting' licences being issued to fox hunts on National Trust land as part of a wider, and rapidly growing, campaign against criminal bloodsports.
"The protests are just one of many actions planned to raise public awareness of illegal hunting on Trust land.
"The hunting season is now drawing to a close, and the Trust needs to take stock of their untenable situation; the hunts they have licensed have repeatedly been exposed in the national press for illegally hunting foxes.
"It is well past time that they recognise what is obvious to so many people and stop issuing these farcical licences."
Ripping to pieces
Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, added: "The National Trust is turning a blind eye to illegal activity on its land and allowing the hunts to literally rip to pieces foxes and hares and chase deer to their deaths.
"Trail hunting is a lie and a deception and the National Trust support for it is shameful.
"Conditions laid down at their AGM in autumn, which they used to block a vote to end trail hunting, are now being abandoned.
"The National Trust has let down its members by failing to regulate or monitor the hunts themselves and their decision to not publish the dates and locations where hunts are meeting makes it more difficult for independent monitors to track their activities to ensure any illegal hunting activity is reported to the police and punished."
The League Against Cruel Sports has launched a petition calling for the strengthening of hunting legislation and for landowners, including the National Trust, to no longer allow the hunts access to their land to kill British wildlife. You canfind out more here