A DEMONSTRATION of trail hunting is set to take place next week in Dorset. 

The British Hounds Sports Association (BHSA) is inviting all supporters and opponents of the sport to see how it works on Friday, March 22.

The Wilton Hunt and the Portman hunt will be laying the trails at Iwerne Stepleton in Blandford Forum, Dorset at 11:30pm (to start at noon). 

Trail hunting involves laying a scent trail across the countryside for hounds to follow. It is usually laid on horseback but, depending on the terrain, can also be done on foot or by using a quadbike.

The scent is laid using a scented rag, and the hounds use their noses to pick up the scent. The rag is picked up and dropped down to leave gaps, which means the hounds lose the trail and pick it up again - to mimic the traditional style of hunting. 

During the day, there will be an opportunity to discuss different scents, terrains and trail laying techniques. Local MPs and rural crime commissioners have also been invited to attend. 

The trail hunting community has come under threat lately, following comments made by shadow environment secretary Steve Reed. Labour have also vowed since to ‘eliminate’ fox hunting.

Olly Hughes, managing director of the BHSA, said: “There are around 12,000 days of trail hunting in England and Wales each year, with widespread public support. You only have to look back to the Boxing Day meets last year to see the tens of thousands of people that turned out to support the event.

"It simply isn’t true that rural voters want to ban trail hunting, which is a well-regulated legal activity that provides cohesion in the countryside for often marginalized communities. There are far more important matters in rural communities that should be the focus of Labour, not a culture war masquerading to improve animal welfare.

"We would urge Steve Reed and other senior members of the Labour Party to meet with us before destroying a traditional way of life for rural communities across the nation.”

Today, 20 years after the introduction of The Hunting Act 2004, which banned chasing wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales, the BHSA says hunts are 'constantly accused' of using trail hunting as a 'loophole to cicumvent the law'. But the BHSA says incidents of wrongdoiong are 'exceptionally rare'. 

“We have to be open and show our sport to anyone with an interest, whether they are opposed to it, or unsure about how it works in practice," Olly added. 

"When hounds are seen in full cry across the country it is easy for some to assume they are hunting illegally when they are not."

The BHSA aims to preserve, protect, and promote the future of hunting with hounds. The BHSA has accredited 242 foxhound, harrier, beagle, basset and stag hound packs in the UK.