DOZENS of protestors gathered outside Dunster Castle on Sunday as part of a nationwide demonstrations against the National Trusts' continued licensing of hunts on their land.

Somerset Wildlife Crime were out in force with placards and even a person in a fox costume on a very cold day to make their point.

Ford Ley from Somerset Wildlife Crime said: "This is part of a nationwide protest organised by the National Dis-Trust campaign. We want to raise awareness to the public that the National Trust is still licensing hunts on their land.

"Exmoor is still a popular area for hunting and we see hunts still operating in the Dulverton area and on the National Trust's Holnicote Estate.

"We are calling on the National Trust to take a clear stance and stop this practice on its land."

Ford said the group had received positive feedback from the majority of people although said there was still some abuse from hunt supporters.

The group also handed out leaflets to visitors to the castle and said they were grateful to the local wildlife crime officer for attending to maintain safety.

Hunting wild animals was outlawed in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004 and the National Trust stated that its land is no exception.

The National Trust did release a statement in response to the nationwide protests, which says: "The law does allow what is known as trail ‘hunting’ to continue. This activity involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.

"The Trust does license 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 believe the overwhelming majority of hunts act responsibly, and we hope our clear, robust, and transparent set of conditions will allow participants to enjoy this activity in compatibility with our conservation aims.

"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."

The Trust said its core aim is to look after the places in its care and that is the top priority when considering licensing outdoor activities, whether that is trail hunting, food festivals or mountain biking.

"But our charity was also established for the nation’s benefit and to provide the widest spectrum of public access and enjoyment. We therefore always look to welcome people to our places and to host the broadest range of outdoor activities on our land," a National Trust spokesman said.

"We believe this should include trail ‘hunting’, where it is consistent with our conservation aims and is legally pursued."