Posts Tagged ‘Portman Hunt’

The National Trust – a truly British institution, a bastion of correct thinking, protector and manager of our heritage both natural and man made. Or perhaps something a little more sinister?

Recent events have lead to a call for the NT to ban hunting on all of its land.

Hounds attack couple and their pet dog on a Cornwall beach.

These aren’t isolated incidents either

Avon Vale Hunt prosecuted. This hunt killed a fox in a residential garden only a few days ago.

Minehaed Harriers banned.

Portman Hunt damage iron age hill fort.

Their website clearly state their position on field (blood) sports:

We appreciate the importance of rural traditions as part of the spirit of many of the places we look after. We allow field sports to take place on our property where traditionally practised, provided they are within the law and compatible with the Trust’s purposes, which include public access and the protection of rare animals and birds and fragile habitats.

Following the Hunting Act of 2004 we grant licences for trail hunting, ie the following of an artificially laid scent, where this is compatible with local circumstances.

We expect those to whom we grant trail hunting licences on our land to comply fully with the law and the terms of our licence. Anyone who suspects them of breaking the law should contact the local police force as the proper investigating authority.

We will take, and have taken, strong action against license holders where the police and the legal process have found them guilty of breaking the law, or where our licence terms are broken.

nt1

First off, lets break down the first paragraph.

Rural traditions – kinda makes you think of burning witches and sleeping with garlic round your neck to ward off vampires. Tradition is no excuse for cruelty. The hunting fraternity love to bang on about tradition and it’s one their weakest arguments. They mention rare animals, birds and habitats that need protection, shouldn’t all species be afforded that same protection? The NT allows game shooting on many of it’s estates and readers of this blog will be well aware of the wholesale slaughter gamekeepers undertake in order to protect their precious birds. This is perfectly highlighted by the incident of a gamekeeper attempting to lure Hen Harriers in to be shot on NT land. The Hen Harrier is one of the rarest birds in England (see here for Mark Avery’s blog with full story).

Secondly lets explore point 2.

They grant licenses to hunts to follow and artificially laid trail. Anyone with any knowledge of hunting will understand what that means and the flaw therein but I’ll explain for those with less knowledge of what that entails. Trail hunting was invented when the ban came in to allow hunts to continue to hunt live quarry but give them an effective alibi should they get caught. It’s totally different from drag or ‘clean boot’ hunting where the hunts follow a non-animal based scent laid down by someone acting as the animal like a fell or cross country runner.

Trail hunts use fox urine as a scent (when they bother to use it), the reality is they want to be able to instantly swap back to real hunting when a repeal of the act made it through parliament without having to retrain a new generation of hounds. Clearly if the hounds are following an animal based scent and put into areas likely to contain that animal then it’s obvious at some point they’ll find that animal,  hunt and then kill it. All the hunt has to do then is claim it was an accident and they will effectively get away with murder. A more detailed explanation came be found on the IFAW website.

Now if this is the case then we have to assume that the NT also know this and if they don’t then they certainly should.

The video above shows the Melbreak fox hunt filmed illegally hunting on various occasions. The final clip shows the hunt killing a fox at Buttermere, a beauty spot owned by the National Trust. Footage courtesy of Cumbria monitors.

Lets now look at Point 3.

They expect the hunts to comply with the law. Well, don’t we all however once again the reality is significantly different. When the ban came into force many thousands signed a document saying they would continue to hunt in defiance of the law, one wonders how many on that list use NT land? Hunts have proven time and again to be the epitome of arrogance, they believe they are above the law and in many cases that seems to be true. There’s a wealth of evidence both on social media and the mainstream press showing hunts paying only a minor lip service to trail laying and hunting pretty much as they would have pre-ban and with many of the police forces either disinterested or positively on the side of the hunts many complaints aren’t properly investigated or just completely ignored.

Finally point 4.

The legislation wrapped around the hunting act has loop holes in it big enough to drive a horse box through. Getting a prosecution for illegal hunting is very hard indeed so why do the NT feel it is necessary for this to have taken place before they will take action against a hunt? Going out with Terrier men, whilst in itself not illegal is clear indication of intent to hunt live quarry so what aren’t they banned?

Although in some cases the NT has suspended hunts from using their land their licenses were renewed some time later or the next season. Why was it then that if the NT felt there was the required evidence to withdraw a hunting license was it rescinded at a later date. If the hunt in question can’t comply with the rules of the license then surely that license should be removed permanently? Clearly there are other forces at work here. Is it the case that the NT, being a charity don’t wish to be seen as political? If that is indeed the case then they are severely misguided. Banning fox hunting (or hunting with hounds in general) isn’t a political issue, it’s one of legality. It’s their duty to not to facilitate illegality on their land and to provide a conservation service (as their website says); ‘For everyone, for ever’ and just a minority who like to kill animals for fun.

dead-hound

A hound from the Melbreak which died after falling from a steep sided crag. The hunt covered it in stones and left it behind.

I have a hunch that the NT have powerful members who are effectively making decisions on behalf of the hunting and shooting lobby. As an organisation they seem unable to cut their ties with blood sports, no doubt either scared of, or run by the Countryside Alliance. They also no doubt make money from these licenses, a revenue stream they don’t wish to see dry up, it also make you wonder if the CA make significant donations on behalf of those who they support. Whatever the justification of allowing hunting on NT land it has to stop. Public support for the ban grows stronger all the time and there can be no more excuses. The NT is clearly not run by idiots, so therefore we can only deduce that they aren’t ignorant of the realities of fox hunting and as such are complicit in facilitating their illegal hunting.

Sign the petition to ban hunting on NT land.