Councillors in Bolsover voted today to conduct an urgent county-wide and national debate on the issue of ‘trail’ hunting, a decision which was welcomed by the League Against Cruel Sports, which campaigns to end hunting for good.

The vote by Bolsover District Council follows the launch late last year of a police investigation into explosive comments made by senior hunt officials during two training webinars. In them they seemed to admit that trail hunting is a “smokescreen” to cover up the chasing and killing of foxes.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Bolsover District Council should be commended for launching an investigation into trail hunting.

“Tackling trail hunting will allow more people to benefit from nature and the outdoors in a positive way without fear of disruption by the brutality of hunting.

“It has the potential to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents and the prevention of illegal hunting and its associated damage to the environment.”

The decision was taken following the intervention and amendment of Bolsover Council leader Cllr Steve Fritchley to a motion submitted by Labour councillor for Bolsover East, Nick Clarke, to prevent illegal hunting on council owned land including trail hunting and hound exercise and hunt meets.

Several councillors spoke during the debate about residents’ experiences and concerns about fox hunting in their area.

Chris Luffingham, added:

“Connecting with nature in a positive way has never been more important to the public than during the current pandemic and its important that the public are not exposed to the dangers that the hunts can pose to them.

“The smokescreen confessions by the hunts and the police investigation into them are a game changer. No longer can the hunts hide behind their trail laying excuses.

“It’s time now for councillors and MPs across the country to get behind our campaign and ban trail hunting and any other form of hunting activity – fox hunting is a cruel blood sport which should be consigned to the history books.”

Motions against trail hunting have recently been successfully passed at Peterborough City Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Six major landowners have suspended trail hunting on their land since the webinars were released. This follows a League campaign that saw supporters send more than 120,000 emails to major landowners in England and Wales to ban trail hunting on their land.

The landowners that have suspended licences are Forestry England, the National Trust, United Utilities, Lake District National Park, Natural Resources Wales, and the Church of England.

The League is now calling on the Ministry of Defence, Duchy of Cornwall and Crown Estates to follow their example.

It is also calling for the bans on trail hunting to be made permanent.

It is not only hunted animals which can be put at risk by hunts claiming to be trail hunting, exploiting exemptions and engaging in activities such as ‘hound exercise’ which is a euphemism for cub hunting. Hunts can damage sensitive habitats and disturb protected and endangered species, while hounds are frequently reported to have trespassed through farms and private gardens, disturbing and killing livestock or pets.

Fox hunting has also been hit by the COVID-19 lockdown and is temporarily suspended.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

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. 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).