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Labour criticised after pledging to end trail hunting

The Countryside Alliance has hit back in response to Labour’s manifesto promise to “end trail hunting.”

According to Labour plans announced over the weekend, the party intends to ban trail hunting, as well as snare traps.

When the Hunting Act 2004 was enforced in February 2005, many hunts wanted to retain their infrastructure so took up trail-hunting with their hounds to comply with the new law that had banned traditional foxhunting. There are other exempt activities which hunts use in addition to trail-hunting that also comply with the law.

Trail hunting involves laying of a scent across the country which a pack of hounds then searches for and follows using their noses.

While the policy details remain minimal and are not yet in the public domain, singer and campaigner Will Young gave his support to the Labour Party as it prepared to unveil the plans under its animal welfare initiatives.

But the announcement has sparked backlash from the Countryside Alliance. The campaigning organisation’s chief executive, Tim Bonner, said: “Labour’s continuing obsession with hunting shows that the party hasn’t changed. This new attack on trail hunting is pointless, prejudiced, and will fan the flames of an ugly culture war.”

The Countryside Alliance highlighted that the 2004 Hunting Act, which banned traditional fox hunting, means that hunting wild mammals with dogs is already illegal in England and Wales, and hundreds of people have been convicted of the offence.

Mr Bonner said: “There is no logical justification for a new law. It is utterly bizarre that Labour is now seeking to ban the activity that it told people they should be doing after it banned traditional hunting in 2005”.

Labour maintains that it is the Conservative Government that has ‘abandoned’ rural communities. A spokesman said: “Working families in rural communities face low pay, rising poverty and the highest tax burden in 70 years. Farmers are locked behind unnecessary trade barriers blocking the export of high-quality produce, with skyrocketing energy prices forcing thousands out of business.”

But the Countryside Alliance said Labour’s hunting plans risk destroying a “critical part of the rural community.”

Mr Bonner said: “Hunts bind together people in some of the most remote and isolated areas of the countryside. They play a really important role as a social hub. The end of hunting would be devastating to many people.”

Labour’s manifesto, which is expected to be released on Thursday, will also include a promise to outlaw the use of snare traps, which, the Countryside Alliance explains, are vital tools used widely by gamekeepers to control the fox population. Mr Bonner said the proposal amounted to “a straightforward attack on game shooting”.

Promoted by James Legge on behalf of the Countryside Alliance at China Works, Black Prince Road, London SE1 7SJ

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