Posted: Thu 18th Nov 2021

Natural Resources Wales bans trail hunting after loss of confidence in Master of Foxhounds Association

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 18th, 2021

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – the Welsh Government-backed environmental body – has said it will no longer allow trail hunting to take place on its land.

Hunting wild mammals with dogs was banned in Wales and England by the Hunting Act of 2004 but the law does allow what is known as trail ‘hunting’ to continue.

This involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles.

It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.

Trail hunting on the NRW estate has been suspended since November 2020 following a police investigation into webinars involving huntsmen discussing the practice.

In October 2021, Master of Foxhounds Association director Mark Hankinson, was found guilty of encouraging the use of legal trail hunting as a screen to carry out the unlawful chasing and killing of animals.

Recordings of Hankinson, a director of the Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), speaking to around 100 senior hunters in two private webinars in August 2020 were leaked online.

The prosecution argued he was giving advice on how to avoid the law.

At Westminster court Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram said “In my judgement he was clearly encouraging the mirage of trail laying to act as cover for illegal hunting.”

Hankinson, was found guilty of encouraging the use of legal trail hunting as a screen to carry out the unlawful chasing and killing of animals.

The NRW Board has decided not to renew its Master Agreement with the MFHA.

As permissions for all trail hunting activity were covered by the MFHA agreement, including access only permission for Hunts that wished to cross NRW managed land, it has been decided to end all trail hunting activity.

Dominic Driver, Head of Land Stewardship for NRW, said:

“We have carefully considered the court ruling and our role before coming to a decision at the Board meeting, which we held in public session.”

“The Board has decided not to renew our agreement with the Master Fox Hounds Association.”

“The outcome of the court case against a senior leader of the MFHA has resulted in a loss of confidence in the organisation’s ability to ensure its activities are carried out within the law and terms of its agreement.”

“In order to assure ourselves properly that trail hunting on our estate wasn’t being used as a cover for illegal activity, we would have to invest in skills and resources that we currently don’t have, to police it properly.”

“Given what has historically been a minor use of the land we manage, this does not represent good use of our limited resources.”

“As all trail hunting was managed under the same agreement, all trail hunting activity on the NRW-managed estate will end with immediate effect.”

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