TRAIL hunting will continue on National Trust land despite campaigners' efforts to ban the practice.

A group of trust members backed by the League Against Cruel Sports put forward a motion calling on the charity to turn its estates into hunting-free zones. They say trail hunting – in which a scent is laid for hounds and the hunt to follow – is allowing illegal hunting of foxes, deer and other animals with dogs.

But the motion was defeated by fewer than 300 votes at the organisation’s annual meeting in Swindon, Wiltshire, on Saturday.

The decision means 67 hunts that use trust land can continue to do so, including the New Forest Hounds (NFH).

Speaking after the meeting Philippa King, acting chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “This is a massive backward step for justice and a shot in the arm for cruelty."

But those opposing the motion said hunts were working within the law and claimed the charity was being used as a political football.

A spokesman for the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance added: “Trail hunting complies with the Hunting Act 2004. It does not involve the chasing of live quarry and is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people.

“There has not been a single successful prosecution of any hunt trail hunting on National Trust land.”

Joint-master Graham Ferris said: “We’re delighted that National Trust members have taken the common sense approach.

“We look forward to trail hunting on trust land later later this season, when details of our new licence have been completed.”