Revealed: 23 hunts are using Ministry of Defence land this season

Revealed: Twenty-three hunts using Ministry of Defence land this season as saboteurs launched war on military chiefs for hosting hounds at 10 sites

  • The hunts have been granted licences to take hounds on Armed Forces’ property
  • They range from Salisbury to Catterick, a Freedom of Information request shows
  • It comes as saboteurs say they will target the MoD in their latest war on the sport
  • It was after they claimed a small victory over hunts over using National Trust land

Twenty-three hunts have been given permission to use Ministry of Defence land this season, MailOnline can reveal.

The packs were granted licences to take hounds on Armed Forces’ property from Salisbury to Catterick, a Freedom of Information request shows.

It comes as saboteurs said they will now target the MoD in their latest war on the traditional rural sport.

The move came after they claimed a small victory over the hunts after pressuring the National Trust to stop letting them use the charity’s land.

Activists said they will turn their attentions to military chiefs they claim ‘facilitate illegal hunting on their land’. Pictured: The Royal Artillery Hunt in front of a tank last week

Which trail or drag hunts have licence to use MoD land this year?

Defence chiefs issued licences to 23 hunts to use 10 of the Armed Forces’ sites during the 2021/2022 season, the FOI revealed.

Southern packs included Surrey Union, Staff College Drag Hunt, Essex and Suffolk, North Shropshire, Royal Artillery, Tedworth, Wilts and Infantry Beagles, Palmer Marlborough, East Kent and Westside, Spooners and West Dartmoor and Lamerton.

They were granted permission to hunt on Longmoor, West Tofts, Nesscliffe, Salisbury Plain, Cinque Port and Dartmoor.

Further north were Catterick Beagles, Tynedale, Bedale, West of Yore, Zetland, Border Hunt, Newcastle and District Beagles and West Percy Hound Club.

These hunts were given licences for Catterick, Ouston and North Otterburn.

Meanwhile in Wales, Glyn Celyn Beagles, Brecon and Talybont, Sennybridge Farmers Hunt and Ifron and Towi. They have the rights to ride on Sennybridge.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation dished out 19 grants to hunts in the season before the pandemic struck, 26 in 2019 and 21 in 2018.

Last season hunts were sanctions to use military land across the country to chase artificial scents.

Hunts pay £75 for the licence to be granted – which can be refunded if a pack does not make it out due to military exercises – plus a further £100 for it to be prepared.

Hunting on MoD land is separated into green land – where anyone following the hunt can go – and red land, which is only for huntsmen to retrieve any stray hounds.

The National Trust, which has been blasted for going ‘woke’ in recent months, said the board of trustees had ‘carefully considered the issue’ before taking the drastic step (file photo)

In the contract, huntsmen also swear to abide by the laws set out in the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Hunting Act 2004.

They are also not allowed to lay a natural scent – using the carcass of a dead animal – for the hounds to follow, it has to be artificial.

The Secretary of State for Defence, which is currently former British Army officer Ben Wallace, signs off on the licences.

But the agreement between the hunts and the MoD can be ripped up with just a month’s notice, government documents show.

An MoD spokesman said: ‘Trail hunting continues to be permitted on MOD land, subject to hunts obtaining and abiding by the terms of a trail hunting licence and the law.’

Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance Tim Bonner added: ‘The Government has made it perfectly clear that legal hunting activity will be allowed to continue on MoD land.

‘We look forward to as many hunts as possible being able to take the opportunity to go drag hunting and trail hunting this winter.

‘Activists would be better advised to focus on campaigns that actually improve animal welfare and the environment, rather than pursuing their petty class war agenda.’

Last month MailOnline revealed the Hunt Saboteurs Association were focusing their attention on hunting on MoD land.

Activists said they will turn their attentions to military chiefs they claim ‘facilitate illegal hunting on their land’.

They said it was the latest attempt to squeeze out the areas in which the sport can operate.

Lee Moon said: ‘Our next target will be the MOD who, despite appearing indifferent to public opinion, cannot continue to facilitate illegal hunting on their land.

‘We expect to see some hunts fold completely and others face an increasingly difficult future as they struggle for land on which to carry out their illegal acts.’

Last week the National Trust banned trail hunting on its land because bosses feared ‘the reputational risk’ of allowing packs to continue.

Hunting and rural groups slammed the National Trust for ‘breaking its fundamental principle’ of ‘for everyone, for ever’ (file photo)

The charity, which has been blasted for going ‘woke’ in recent months, said the board of trustees had ‘carefully considered the issue’ before taking the drastic step.

It said a recent conviction of a senior huntsman and a vote at its annual general meeting – involving just two per cent of members – were among other factors.

Hunting and rural groups slammed the trust for ‘breaking its fundamental principle’ of ‘for everyone, for ever’.

They pointed to an ‘engineered’ bullying campaign from opponents of legal hunting to harass landowners into stopping the sport.

Trail hunting is legal and sees hounds follow a scent laid down by huntsmen to follow through the countryside.

It replicates a traditional fox hunt without an animal actually being chased, injured or killed.

There is occasionally a risk a hound may accidentally pick up on a real fox scent, but they are then stopped by their masters.

The Hunting Act 2004 banned hunting foxes with hounds, but there have been reports of breaches since.

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