I’m not a member of the National Trust – I switched to the National Trust for Scotland several years ago for financial and policy reasons – but if you are a member then you can vote on this matter. And whatever your view, I would encourage you to vote.
The motion is a vote on whether you want so-called trail hunting, which is often a cover for illegal Fox-killing, to be allowed on National Trust land. Now my view would be that even if all so-called trail hunting is actually just that, following a laid trail and involves no killing of Foxes at all, then I would vote against it, simply on the grounds that it is not the NT’s role to allow such a hobby on its land just because people used to do something like that in the past. And it’s hardly a wildlife-neutral activity when you consider the disturbance involved. If it involved motorbikes and groups of Rotweilers running over the countryside then it wouldn’t last long. this ‘tradition’ argument is very shaky, isn’t it?
But I don’t believe for one minute that this ‘tradional’ field ‘sport’ now is Fox-friendly. It’s clearly, for many, a tawdry cover for continuing what is now illegal. There is a strong argument that people should be allowed to do things that others dislike, can’t fathom or oppose with all their might if they don’t do anyone, or any creature, any or much harm. But this non-traditional pursuit doesn’t fall into that category. And in any case, it isn’t the NT’s job to provide outlets for such pursuits on their land unless it has a very clear overall public benefit, I’d argue. You may feel differently.
I don’t have a vote but if you do then i encourage you to make the effort to use it. Here is a handy guide from LACS to how you can vote one way – but it serves just as well as a guide on how to vote the other way – click here.
NT have produced some information on the subject too but what I’ve seen doesn’t strike me as very helpful. Their line is that they don’t support illegal activities but they fail to address in any meaningful way the allegation that trail hunting is often a cover for wildlife crime. This is something that they allow to happen on their land and yet they seem blissfully unaware of the scale of the problem, but don’t say that they know there isn’t a problem. What have they mean doing to check what happens on their own land, for heaven’s sake? The phrase wilful blindness comes to mind. Their remarks also fail to explain why it’s such a good idea to have lots of horses and dogs running around in the countryside in any case, and why the NT would be keen to encourage or allow such behaviour on their land at all.
In fact, NT is pretty restrictive about dogs on their land in general – see here. There are places where you can let your dog off the lead but as you look through the images and words then they stress how welcoming they are of dogs in some places, on leads. Funny that!
I haven’t felt sorry that I dumped my NT membership until now, and I am wishing that I could vote on this issue even though it isn’t, it really isn’t, one I feel very very strongly about.