IT has been implied that trail hunting is banned throughout the National Park, whereas the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) has suspended trail hunting licences indefinitely ‘for activity on land owned by the LDNPA’ (see

The LDNPA explains on its website that it does not have any power or responsibility to manage trail hunting activity on land owned by others in the National Park.

The common land now owned by the LDNPA that has been traditionally used by some of the fell packs is less than four per cent of land in the National Park.

Some of your readers said that trail hunting is cruel. Trail hunting activity involves a person laying a trail over the fells, by dragging a scent-infused cloth or sack along the ground.

The huntsman and foxhounds then seek out the trail and follow it. The fell packs are foot hunts, and hunt supporters follow the activity on foot, or in vehicles on the roads.

In response to a reader’s comment: amongst the fell packs and hunts across the country, there are a good number of women that follow hunts, as well as men. I cannot see anything cruel about this activity.

The Hunting Act 2004, which came into force in 2005, bans the hunting of foxes. Trail hunting is legal.

Fox numbers are managed with the aim of maintaining healthy and balanced populations that can be sustained by their local environment.

Before the ban, when hunted by foxhounds, a hound would nip the back of a fox’s neck, and the fox would die within seconds. Foxes that were not caught would outrun the hounds and get away without any injury.

With regard to less cruel ways of managing numbers, a fox that is shot cleanly dies pretty much instantaneously, as is the case when a fox is killed by a hound, so these are probably the two least cruel methods.

But foxes are not always shot cleanly.

Trail hunt supporters recognise that it is a minority activity. Those that are able follow hounds on foot across the fells, enjoying the fresh air and exercise, and all enjoy the spectacle of hounds seeking out a trail, and the company of people with a shared interest.

Sue Roberts
By e-mail