ANTI-hunt campaigners called on the National Trust to ban trail hunting on its land.

A demonstration organised by the League Against Cruel Sports met outside the Swindon-based charity’s annual general meeting at the Steam Museum on Saturday morning. In their sights: trail hunting, a legal sport that sees hounds and hunters follow an artificial scent laid across the countryside.

At last year’s AGM, a motion calling for hunting to be banned was narrowly defeated. The motion was supported by a majority of trust members, but floundered when the charity used 3,460 proxy votes to defeat it. Members had given the board of trustees authority to use their proxy votes as required.

Nick Weston, head of campaigns for the League, said: “We were here protesting last year. This is about keeping up the pressure on the National Trust. Trail hunting is an activity designed to appear legal.

“If you have hounds that are trained to follow a fox scent, placed in an area where they are likely to find foxes and a master of hounds who doesn’t know where those foxes are, you’ve got a recipe for disaster."

“The issue hasn’t gone away. Hunting goes on across the country. We think the National Trust should be responsible for the animals on their land if they’re granting licenses for hunting.”

Following last year’s vote, the National Trust’s board said new guidelines issued to hunts meant things would be substantially different. Terriermen, whose role in the past was to help dig out foxes, were being banned and non-animal scents must be used by trail hunts under the new policy.

But Mr Weston said the League “had not seen that policy rolled out yet”.

On the demonstration was Elaine Jones, dressed in a fox costume for her first campaign event with the League: “I feel strongly about the issue. I think it’s an absolute outrage that they had a vote that was overturned. The majority of people don’t want hunting to happen.”

A National Trust spokesman said: “We have been carefully listening to both sides of a highly polarised and passionate debate for years. During our review [of trail hunting licensing conditions in 2017], we carefully weighed up those arguments, but Our first priority is always to protect conservation and access on our land.”