Public pressure forces council vote on trail hunting

20th January 2022

Politics is all about people, and this week the people of Cornwall forced a council vote on ‘trail’ hunting. This vote followed a petition by Action Against Foxhunting that attracted more than 10,000 signatures calling for a ban on trail hunting on public land in Cornwall. It was disappointing, however, to see the council react to such a positive example of public engagement in politics by rejecting an option to include Cornish people in the democratic process further.

In a debate at full council this week (January 18), Cornwall Council voted to leave the ultimate decision to the council leader, who may make her decision as soon as February 9. As part of this passionate debate, councillors were given the option to call upon her to launch a public consultation, which would have been an opportunity for the council to engage the people they represent in this vital discussion. Inexplicably the council opted not to.

And this is where you come in.

Land owned by Cornwall Council is, in effect, owned by you, the people of Cornwall. In deciding not to give Cornish people the opportunity to have their say on how that land is used, a reasonable conclusion could be made that the council do not value for the views of their voters enough. It is notable that the only public input into this decision making is the petition. In the absence of a wider consultation the views of the 10,000+ petition signatories should not be discounted. Enough is enough, Cornwall Council must act in the interests of its residents by banning trail hunting on public land.

We’re asking you to contact the leader of Cornwall Council before February 9 in lieu of a proper consultation and tell her why you think trail hunting should be banned on Cornish land.


Following briefings by the League and the efforts of our supporters to contact their local councillors, it was encouraging within the debate to see true cross-party support for the petition. Councillors Jayne Kirkham (Labour), Andrew George (Lib Dem) and John Conway (Conservative) all spoke passionately and with valuable contributions against the “smokescreen” of trail hunting.

Cornwall is a rural county renowned for its beauty and open countryside. The natural world including wildlife is vital to Cornwall and this is reflected in its declaration in 2019 of a climate emergency. Naturally, Cornwall is a heavily hunted area but that also grows opposition to hunting. Rural people in Cornwall see every day the damage that hunts do to the countryside, and the devastation they inflict on wild animals. A powerful moment of the debate came from a first-hand account from Cllr John Conway.

Cllr Conway described his anger at an incident of a hunt trespassing on railway land near Launceston. His account of terrier men at work close to a railway illustrated why trail hunting is not what it claims to be. There is no reason for terrier men to be present at a trail hunt unless a fox is being intentionally pursued and perhaps flushed from an underground sett – they certainly wouldn’t have been laying so-called trails on a railway line. The act of sending dogs underground endangers the fox and the hounds – that this incident took place close to a railway makes the incident even more dangerous.

Survation polling from 2018 shows that rural people do not consider that hunting with dogs reflects countryside values. Just four percent of rural people responded that they ever participate in hunting. In contrast, 61 percent of people enjoyed watching or otherwise observing wildlife at least once a month. In his speech, former MP and now councillor Andrew George highlighted how a ban on trail hunting on council land could empower rural farmers. Some council-tenanted farmers who may currently feel pressured by hunts to allow access to their land could be emboldened to stand up and ban the smokescreen of trail hunting on their land if the council backed them. Crucially, if a council ban was passed, existing tenanted farmers would retain the option to ban or allow trail hunting on their land.

There is still an opportunity for Cornwall Council to ban hunting on its land – it now falls on the executive and ultimately the council leader to decide. The League is confident that the Cornish people back a ban on trail hunting on council-owned land. Enough is enough – let’s end trail hunting for good.

Support our message – if you live in Cornwall, write to the council leader before February 9 and urge her to ban trail hunting on public land. You can find her email address here.

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