The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) is planning to sell some of the 2,000 acres it owns on Exmoor to fund a £1million campaign against repeal of the Hunting Act.

Since the hunting ban LACS membership has dropped and the charity has sold off a number of assets.

“We are absolutely focused and determined in our aim to ensure the Hunting Act remains,” said the chief executive of the charity Douglas Batchelor.

Countryside Alliance (CA) spokesman Tim Bonner said: “LACS has between 4,000 and 5,000 members, according to the latest figures, and seems to continue to exist only by selling off the family silver. It is difficult to see how it can carry on.”

LACS will retain sporting rights over all the land it sells, most of which was purchased in the 1960s and 1970s, to ensure that hunting and shooting cannot ever take place there.

The sale follows the disposal of the charity’s London and Somerset headquarters and land sales in 2005.

LACS has just published its accounts for 2009. They show a surplus for the year of £425,000 which includes £379,000 raised by the sale of the Somerset property — St Nicholas’ Priory on its Baronsdown estate.

Former LACS director Jim Barrington, who is now a welfare adviser to the CA, said: “Selling off sanctuary land is an issue that always divides the League’s membership.

“Many members feel the land should not be sold. It has led to some big bust-ups within the charity in the past.”

No date has yet been set for a free vote on the Act in the House of Commons.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (26 August, ’10)