Council report into trail hunting is flawed, says charity

National animal welfare charity the league Against Cruel Sports has said a report published by Cornwall Council ahead of a crunch debate on the future of trail hunting in the county is flawed.

The report was issued in response to a petition brought by Action Against Fox Hunting, urging Cornwall Council to ban the use of its rural land for hunting. The issue is due to be debated on Tuesday [January 18].

While the League commends the council for including other bodies in the report, such as St Ives Town Council and the National Trust, that have banned trail hunting because of its links with illegal hunting, the charity is asking why the recent conviction of top huntsman Mark Hankinson for teaching hunts how to break the law, following an investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police, was not.

Similarly, the charity has concerns over how the information in the report was gathered around the amount of hunting that occurs on council-owned land.

It states that the council can’t tell how many hunts access tenanted council land, but later describes the activity level as “low and irregular”. And it then goes on to say “trail hunting routes cover many different farms and parcels of land”. These three statements do not seem to match, says the charity.

Chris Luffingham, director of external affairs at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We do have concerns over the accuracy of the information in the report, and we were very surprised the recent conviction of a top huntsman for teaching more than 100 hunt representatives how to use trail hunting as an excuse the break the law wasn’t included.

“It’s our hope that these issues will be covered in a full debate at Cornwall Council, and the executive and leader will reflect the council’s commitment to the environment by banning trail hunting on its land.”  

In the 2019/20 hunting season the League recorded 41 incidents relating to illegal hunting in Cornwall, including seven incidents of hounds trespassing into nature reserves, and six of hounds straying onto major roads.

The League says if the hunts were following a pre-laid trail, which is what they claim trail hunting is, the hounds would not have been in these places, causing disruption and potentially collisions on roads, and disturbing wildlife.

One of those reports was of Mini the cat, who was mauled to death by hounds belonging to the Western Hunt.

Chris added: “Other organisations have said enough is enough when it comes to hunts using their land, and we urge Cornwall Council agree and ban this excuse for old fashioned illegal hunting.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information on trail hunting, see: https://www.league.org.uk/what-we-do/hunting/trail-hunting/

For more information on the Mark Hankinson case, see: https://www.league.org.uk/hankinson-trial/and https://www.cps.gov.uk/cps/news/hunting-director-guilty-encouraging-foxhunting-dog

Police suspend Countryside Alliance’s attendance at wildlife meetings after webinar trial: https://www.itv.com/news/2021-10-25/countryside-alliance-national-wildlife-crime-unit-membership-under-review

Huntsman found guilty after Mini the cat was mauled to death: https://www.league.org.uk/news-and-resources/news/cornish-hunt-master-found-guilty-after-cat-mauled-to-death-by-hounds/

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act 2004 and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021.

We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).

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