In their most recent war against trail hunting, hunt saboteurs are now going after the Ministry of Defence.
According to activists, they plan on focusing their efforts on the military chiefs that they accuse of facilitating illegal hunting in their territory.
It was their latest effort to limit the sports’ ability in certain areas.
Trail hunting is currently prohibited by the MoD at all bases in the country. This includes Sandhurst and Brecon Beacons.
Additional bases that issue licences include Aldershot, Hampshire and Colchester in Essex.
After the National Trust bans packs of hounds on 620,000 acres, the Trust made the decision to make the move.
The activists said that they would focus their efforts on military chiefs who they say ‘facilitate illicit hunting on their land’. Pictured: Last week, the Royal Artillery Hunt stood in front of a tank.
MailOnline spoke with Lee Moon of the Hunt Saboteurs Association, who said that it was the MOD’s next target, even though they appear indifferent to public opinion. They cannot permit illegal hunting on their property.
“We anticipate that some hunting groups will cease to exist and other hunts may find it increasingly challenging to obtain land to continue their illegal activities.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation dished out 11 trail hunting licences for the 2021-22 season, according to anti-hunt site Keep The Ban.
It was an abrupt decline of 19 grants in the previous season, 26 in 2019, and 21 in 2018, respectively.
Hunts last season were banned from using military land throughout the country in order to pursue artificial scents.
These included bases in Aldershot in Hampshire, Sandhurst in Wiltshire, Colchester in Essex and the Brecon Beacons in Wales.
Hankley Common in Surrey, Gibraltar Barracks in Hampshire, Albermarle Barracks in Northumberland and Ellington Banks in Yorkshire were among the camps named.
The Royal Artillery Hunt, which is made up of soldiers and civilians on Salisbury Plain, had the most amount of fixtures on MoD land with 28 from September to November.
Wilts & Infantry Beagles, based in Warminster, was second with 20 while the Tedworth hunt had 13 days.
Hunts pay £75 for the licence to be granted – which can be refunded if a pack does not make it out due to military exercises – plus a further £100 for it to be prepared.
MoD land has two distinct areas for hunting: Green land, which anyone can use to follow the hunt; and Red Land. This land is reserved only for hunters who need to find any lost hounds.
In the contract, huntsmen also swear to abide by the laws set out in the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Hunting Act 2004.
The hounds are not permitted to use a dead animal’s carcass as a scent.
The licenses were signed off by Ben Wallace, the Secretary of Defence. Ben Wallace is a former British Army officer.
Government documents reveal that the MoD and hunts can end their agreement with just one month notice.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘Trail hunting continues to be permitted on MOD land, subject to hunts obtaining and abiding by the terms of a trail hunting licence and the law.’
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive Officer of Countryside Alliance stated that the Government made it clear that legal hunting will continue on MoD Land.
“We are looking forward to going drag hunting or trail hunting as much as we can this winter.
“Activists should focus more on projects that improve the welfare of animals and the environment than on pursuing their own petty-class war agenda,” said a spokesperson.
According to the National Trust, which was criticized for being ‘woken up’ recently, the trustees said they had carefully considered the matter before making the decision (file photo).
Because of the’reputational risks’ associated with allowing trails to be continued, last week’s ban by National Trust was implemented.
The charity, which has been blasted for going ‘woke’ in recent months, said the board of trustees had ‘carefully considered the issue’ before taking the drastic step.
According to it, a recent conviction for a senior huntingman and an annual general meeting vote involving only two per cent of the members were just two factors.
Hunting and rural groups slammed the trust for ‘breaking its fundamental principle’ of ‘for everyone, for ever’.
The opponents to legal hunting used a bullying tactic to intimidate landowners to stop the sport.
It came as senior huntsman Mark Hankinson appealed against his conviction for telling people to use trail hunting as a ‘smokescreen’ for killing foxes.
Harry Bowell, National Trust Director of Land and Nature said that the board had carefully examined this matter.
“Its decision not to issue any further licenses for trail hunting was based upon a broad range of factors.
These include – but not limited to – a loss trust and confidence the MFHA (which governs trail hunting), the vote by National Trust Members at our recent AGM and the significant resources necessary to facilitate trail hunting. There is also the risk to the land’s reputation that this activity will continue.
The trust was criticized by rural and hunting groups for its ‘breaking of its fundamental principle’, namely ‘for everybody, for all’. (file photo).
It is legal to hunt trail hounds. Huntsmen set a scent for the hounds and they follow it through the land.
This mimics the traditional Fox Hunt, but without any animal being injured or killed.
A fox smell can sometimes be picked up by a hound, which is then taken to the masters.
Hunting with hounds was prohibited by the Hunting Act 2004, but reports have surfaced of violations.
Tim Bonner was the Chief Executive Officer of Countryside Alliance and he blasted Trust’s decision to go against its Motto.
Mr Bonner told MailOnline: ‘The National Trust’s decision breaks a fundamental principle.
“The charity says it’s ‘for everybody, forever’ but it’s actually only for people whose board approves that it prohibits a legal activity.
“Trustees’ inability to distinguish between legal hunting and governance is deeply regrettable. It violates the fundamental principle that National Trust land can be used for legitimate activities.
According to a spokesperson for the Hunting Office, the board of the National Trust informed the Hunting Office that they had decided not to issue licenses for trail hunting on Trust Land.
“This is a very disappointing decision, as 98% of Trust members didn’t vote for trail hunting ban at the AGM this year.
The board’s decision not to allow a legitimate, lawful activity was made by trail hunters’ opponents. They tried to force landowners to get rid of a rural community’s lawful activities.
“Hunts” have been able to access National Trust land since generations. This decision completely contradicts the National Trust core principle of ”for everybody, for always”.
“We hope to maintain open communication with the Trust, and continue consultation after the review that we are conducting.”
After a senior huntsman had been convicted, the Trust has banned him from using the sport to cover illegal fox hunting.
After a probe by police into the webinars of huntsmen about this practice, the sport was removed from Trust land in November 2020.
In October, Mr Hankinson, Director of Masters of Foxhounds Association was found guilty of telling the group that trail hunting is a “sham” and a “fiction” for unlawfully chasing after and killing of animal.
Mark Hankinson, Director of Masters of Foxhounds Association was found guilty in October of telling huntersmen that trail hunting is a “sham” and a “fiction” for unlawfully chasing after and killing of animal.
In two sessions of training for 100 hunts, the 61-year old was captured. In which he admitted that trail hunting was just a cover for the killing and chasing of foxes, he was also recorded.
The footage taken from webinars was leaked to media by hunt saboteurs. He was then charged.
His lawyer pointed out that the Hunt Sabotage Association illegally acquired the recordings.
However, Tan Ikram, Deputy Senior District Judge refused to allow the exclusion of evidence.
Hankinson of Sherborne in Dorset was not guilty of illegal Fox-hunting but he was found guilty of it during two webinars held between August 11th and 13 last year.
He was fined £1,000, in addition to £2,500 in prosecution costs and a £100 surcharge last month following a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Following a quick hearing, Judge Martin Beddoe ordered Hankinson to appeal in two days for May 5th at Southwark Crown Court.