Somerset Council must act on illegal fox hunting
Posted 8th December 2022
Somerset is in the top five counties in the country both for suspected illegal fox hunting and for reports of hunts wreaking havoc on local communities and people.
In May 2022 members of the newly formed Somerset Council told the League that they would take practical steps to combat hunting in the county, and leading councillors of the ruling Liberal Democrats endorsed our campaign. However, just six months later, the council appear to have backtracked.
We are now told that the council considers trail hunting to be a legal activity and that it is entirely up to tenants what happens on council owned land. Make no mistake, those who hunt and kill animals in Somerset will be cheered by these words.
Somerset Council cannot ignore our calls for them to act and introduce a ban on ‘trail’ hunting on public land in the county.
Somerset is consistently near the top of the table for incidences of suspected illegal hunting and reckless behaviour by the hunts. Parroting the lines of the pro-hunting lobby which describes trail hunting as a legal activity and refuses to acknowledge that it is a smokescreen for old fashioned illegal hunting is simply not good enough.
Witnesses have seen the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Hunt, with kennels in the village of Charlton Horethorne, repeatedly chasing and killing animals. Eleven incidents in which the hunt has been seen chasing foxes, including two confirmed kills, have been reported to the League. One incident saw them chasing four foxes in one day and this is just one of 13 hunts active in Somerset.
I am disappointed with the council’s new stance, but our campaign does not end here. The public are behind us, consistently telling us that they want to see fox hunting ended once and for all.
It’s time for change and Somerset Council has a huge part to play in that – by committing to review its tenancy agreements as they are renewed, by acknowledging the overwhelming evidence that shows trail hunting is a sham and a mirage, and by representing the views of local residents.
Polling shows that more than 70 per cent of residents would be more likely to vote for candidates who want to strengthen the Hunting Act. Hunting is not just a moral issue but an electoral one. Our job now is to make sure that hunting is an issue that policymakers in Somerset cannot ignore.
Over the coming months, we will be asking our supporters to keep the pressure on Somerset Council. Just because the weather isn’t good enough to campaign on the streets, doesn’t mean that we will go quiet until the spring.
If you’re a resident in the Somerset Council area, don’t forget to sign our petition at league.org.uk/somerset.
If you want to get more active and join our campaign, get in touch with me - regional campaigns manager, John Petrie, at email@example.com.