A GROUP of National Trust members have brought their campaign to end trail hunting to the organisation's Swindon headquarters.

The 2004 Hunting Act banned traditional fox hunting where live animals were chased by packs of dogs for the entertainment and enjoyment of participants. The legislation has resulted in more than 430 prosecutions since it came into effect, the equivalent of one every 10 days.

But while the act banned fox hunting, it did continue to permit trail hunting which is an adapted version of the sport.

It involves the use of an artificially laid scent, usually fox, hare or rabbit based, to provide hounds with a path to follow.

In theory it avoids the suffering and killing of foxes, but campaigners argue that the trail hunts often end with the dogs coming across foxes - participants say by accident - and that animals are still being killed.

The National Trust, based in Swindon next to the Designer Outlet, issue licences for trail hunts to take place on a number of their properties across the UK.

A group of Trust members is now seeking to use the organisation's procedures to challenge the policy by submitting a resolution, supported by 50 members, to be debated later this year.

Helen Beynon, campaigner and author of the resolution, said: "As members of the National Trust who support the majority of the positive work they do - notably their recent commitment to increase efforts for declining wildlife - we have been dismayed by the constant media coverage given to stories of blatant criminal bloodsports on National Trust land.

"Our resolution to permanently bring an end to these so called trail hunt licenses has been submitted.

"I'm pleased to see that in addition to this, an ongoing petition calling for the National Trust to drop this trail hunting sham has now surpassed 100,000 signatures."

A National Trust spokesman said: "A members' resolution has been received by the National Trust concerning trail hunting.

"Members are entitled to present resolutions each year and, if they are supported by a minimum of 50 National Trust members, those resolutions are then discussed and voted on by members at our Annual General Meeting in the Autumn.

"The Hunting Act 2004 made hunting wild animals with dogs illegal and it is banned on all public and privately owned land in England and Wales.

"The Act allowed what is known as trail hunting to continue. Trail hunting involves laying a scent for hunts to follow, effectively simulating a traditional hunt but crucially without foxes being deliberately chased or killed.

"The National Trust does licence trail hunts in some areas and at certain times of the year, where it is compatible with our aims of public access and conservation. We expect our licence holders to comply fully with the law and the terms of our licence.

"We will, and have, taken strong action (including suspension, revoking and refusing to grant further licences) against licence holders who breach their licence conditions or the law."