Blur drummer takes ‘trail’ hunting concerns to Norfolk County Council

Cllr Mike Smith-Clare brought a motion, seconded by Cllr Rowntree, asking the council to review whether to continue to allow ‘trail’ hunting and the exercising of packs of dogs on its land.

The councillors were concerned about the environmental impact so-called ‘trail’ hunting has on the environment, as well as the risk of injury and death the ‘sport’ can cause to both wild and domestic animals.

However, the motion was defeated after a vote in the Tory-majority Norfolk County Council chamber.

Cllr Smith-Clare said: “I am shocked that pure ignorance has prevented logical research and greater understanding from taking place. It beggars belief that personal interests are put before Norfolk’s natural environment.”

Cllr Rowntree added: “I’m disappointed at the decision not to hold a review as there is no justification for more suffering to animals. The opponents of the review simply didn’t engage with the real issues.”

The land owned by Norfolk County Council extends to more than 6,800 hectares of farmland.

The League has received seven reports of suspicious or reckless activities by hunts in Norfolk since August in which hunting hounds chased wildlife. In one case, we received a report that a wild animal was killed as a result.

The incidents took place during the meets of four different hunts: the Waveney Harriers, North Norfolk Hunt, West Norfolk Hunt, and Dunston Harriers, and the animals being chased included fox, hare, deer and a domestic cat.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We applaud the attempt by Cllrs Smith-Clare and Rowntree to urge the council to review its trail hunting permissions, but are disappointed in the outcome.

“As our figures show, the hunts are deceiving the public about their activities by claiming they are following artificial trails or trail hunting, and the council’s refusal to even review the issue shows it is blinkered to the wider debate around this ‘sport’.


Notes to Editors

The full text of the motion that was considered was:

“The Council fully accepts that the hunting of wild animals with dogs is illegal under the terms of the Hunting Act 2004, except where an exemption applies. With a continual threat to the environment and on wild and domestic animals, the Council proposes that the Environmental Working Group considers the impact of removing trail hunting and the exercising of packs of dogs from Norfolk County Council owned land including County Farms.”

The councillors used a 2017 report by the League Against Cruel Sports about conservation issues with trail hunting, exempt hunting and the exercising of hounds as part of their proposal. It established that these activities risk:

  • Disturbance to habitats by packs of hounds on the loose, riders or vehicles entering protected areas and potentially doing physical damage to the vegetation, soil or wildlife
  • Disturbance to animals belonging to protected or endangered species, or otherwise, by interfering with their shelters, disturbing their natural activities, injuring them or killing them
  • Disturbance to the environment by spreading contaminated dog faeces all over the countryside
  • Disturbance to historical sites by potentially damaging soil or structures when trespassing

A second report, written for the League by respected retired Bristol University professor of environmental sciences, Steve Harris, was also used by the councillors. It looks at the risks posed by hunts on biosecurity issues and the spread of disease, looking at the fouling by the dogs on farmland and the feeding of fallen livestock to them.

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