A petition calling for an end to trail hunting on land owned by Cornwall Council has been dubbed ‘anti-rural’ by countryside campaigners.

The online petition, which appeared on the Change.org website, is to be presented at the next full council meeting on Tuesday.

More than 10,000 signed in support of a call from Action Against Foxhunting Cornwall calling for the council to ban trail hunt meets on council owned and public land.


An agenda item ahead of the meeting of the full council states that a report is being devised, which it is expected will be presented to local councillors.

However, Polly Portwin, director of the Campaign for Hunting at the Countryside Alliance said: “Cornwall is a predominantly rural county, which has a number of hunts that operate and contribute to the local economy.

"For many, trail hunting is important part of countryside life and it would be anti-rural to ban a legal activity. We will be making that case to local councillors, as will the local hunts. In the event that councillors are asked to vote, we sincerely hope they reject this divisive petition."

Trail-hunting involves laying of a scent across the country which a pack of hounds then searches for and follows using their noses. The season starts in the autumn and continues throughout the winter, with most packs finishing during March.

When the Hunting Act 2004 was enforced in February 2005, banning traditional fox hunting, many hunts wanted to retain their infrastructure so took up trail-hunting with their hounds.

The Countryside Alliance said there were five trail hunting packs based in Cornwall – as well as other packs based on the county borders – that it understood to access council-owned land in Cornwall.

"It is not clear what overall impact a potential ban on using council land could have on their lawful hunting activities but it could potentially have an impact not only on the hunts themselves and the industries within Cornwall those who the hunt support, but also on the tenant farmers, some of which rely upon the fallen stock services provided by some of the hunts," said an Alliance spokesperson.

"Hunts, including those in Cornwall, employ professional members of staff whose priority it is to maintain high standards of animal welfare for their hounds and horses in their care. Not only do hunts provide direct employment, but they also utilise other local businesses and professional services which contribute to the local economy."

The Alliance said it would also be asking Cornwall Council what checks are in place to ensure the petition complies with its criteria.

The council’s website states that petitions will only be considered if at least 250 people have signed it and goes on to say: "These people must live, work, study or use the service(s) that the petition relates to within Cornwall." While some of the signatories self-identify as being from Cornwall, there are others from outside the county as far away as Knysna in South Africa.

Alliance director Ms Portwin added: “It would be bizarre for any local petition to be debated which has relied on signatories from outside a specific area.

"An email address in itself, clearly does not substitute for a physical address in Cornwall. In the interest of balance, it would also only be right for the hunting community to feed into any report so the council is not led by any one particular side.”