The National Trust has banned trail hunting on its lands, nearly a year after temporarily suspending such activity, with critics fearing the practice could serve as a smokescreen for illegal fox hunting.

In an overwhelming vote at its annual meeting in October, the trust – one of the UK’s largest landowners – overwhelmingly voted to ask trustees to ban this form of hunting, which has was designed after the Hunting Act banned fox hunting with dogs.

In trail hunting, a “trail layer” comes out before the hunt, dragging a rag coated with animal odor. The hunters throw the dogs at this scent and follow it to the end of the trail. Critics argue that it is commonly used as a cover for old school illegal hunting.

He comes after one of the largest landowners in Wales, Natural Resources of Wales (NRW), also banned the practice. Land owned by the government sponsored organization accounts for around 7% of the countryside and forests of Wales.

The National Trust’s decision was hailed by League Against Cruel Sports, an animal rights charity. However, the organization said it was concerned it would not go far enough and become permanent, and that without a full and explicit ban, fox hunting could still take place.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns for the charity, said: “Their members’ voices could not have been louder, sending a clear message to the board that enough is enough and that trail hunting should be. prohibited on trusted lands.

“The board has recognized the strong sentiments of its members and the general public, who are more aware than ever that so-called trail hunting is being used as an excuse – a smokescreen – for illegal hunting. However, Hankinson’s recent verdict has shown that the top-down hunting community cannot be trusted, and not having a definitive ban could lead to foxes being hunted down and killed by hunts.

Mark Hankinson, the former director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, was found guilty of encouraging or aiding others to break the Hunting Act 2004, under the Serious Crime Act 2007. He had spoken to over 100 other hunters in a series of trainings. webinars on how to use trail hunting as a smokescreen.

NRW said in a statement: “The outcome of the trial against a senior MFHA leader has led to a loss of confidence in the organization’s ability to ensure that its activities are carried out within the law and within the terms. of his agreement. “

The league is lobbying other large landowners such as Forestry England, United Utilities, Church of England, Crown Estates, Duchy of Cornwall, local authorities, national parks authorities and the Department of Defense to that they follow the National Trust and Natural Resources Wales. by prohibiting trail hunting.