TRAIL-HUNTING will now be allowed on Mottistone Estate after a new hunting licence was issued by the National Trust.

Leading animal welfare charity, The League Against Cruel Sports, has urged the National Trust to cancel its controversial new licence to prevent wild animals being chased and killed by hounds.

Director of the campaign, Chris Luffingham, said: "The Mottistone Estate is a local treasure which showcases British nature at its best.

"Allowing a hunt to trample across the land, taking part in an activity which many people believe involves the killing of animals, completely goes against that philosophy."

In a letter to the National Trust, the league cites how horses, hounds and followers are being granted free access to sections of the Mottistone Estate, which the Trust maintains on behalf of the nation.

This area includes a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest, home to vulnerable fauna and flora.

The League, alongside other wildlife protection organisations, have revealed how hunts granted access to National Trust estates are pursuing fox, hare and deer under the guise of following a trail.

Chris added: "It’s sad that this licence has been issued. But now it’s been done, the National Trust estate need to show their members and the public how they will ensure that animals are safe on their land. We need to hear from them as to exactly how they will prevent foxes being killed by the hunt."

One of the ways the National Trust said it is protecting animals on the land is by performing 'spot checks' to check they are acting legally. The League has said, due to the fact the hunts will be given 24 hours notice for the checks, that this is like telling a burglar which house is being staked out by the police.

"It's a nonsense and reflects the half-hearted and ineffectual way in which the National Trust has approached this serious problem."

The National Trust has a statement on their website on their position on trail hunting.

It reads: "Hunting with packs of dogs has been illegal since 2004. The law does allow what is known as ‘trail hunting’ to continue. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being intentionally chased, injured or killed.

"We licence trail hunting under certain conditions designed to allow participants to take part in this activity where they are compatible with our conservation aims.

"Anybody who uses our land must comply with the law, regardless of whether they do so under our licence conditions or under rights retained when the property was transferred to the Trust."

Tony Tutton, general manager of the Isle of Wight National Trust, said: "This is a national issue and it is the national perspective that needs to be taken into account.

"We have to abide by what was agreed at the National Trust AGM."

UPDATE: A spokesperson from the National Trust said in 2017, they have further enhanced their approach to managing and monitoring trail hunts on their land.

The changes include the creation of a national Trail Hunt Management Team and the introduction of formal monitoring of hunts on the ground.

The spokesperson said: "These measures, in addition to those introduced ahead of the season, re-affirm the importance of adherence to licence conditions and enable us to further safeguard our commitments to both conservation and access.

"Any activity associated with the term 'hunting' continues to provoke strong emotions on both sides of the debate. We recognise our reforms will not satisfy everyone."