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Councillors ‘alarmed’ over suspected illegal hunting

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Councillors in Gloucestershire say they are “alarmed” that the county has been identified as the worst in the country for suspected illegal fox hunting.

Figures issued by leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports regularly shows Gloucestershire as a particular hotspot for the worst hunting crimes, and 17 hunts are still active within the county.

Today a motion opposing the use of council land for trail hunting, exempt hunting, hound exercise and hound meets has been referred to its Corporate and Overview Scrutiny Committee for further debate and investigation.

However, the League urges councillors to look at the data and ban the so-called sport from its land outright. 

Emily Lawrence, regional campaign manager for the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Despite the hunting ban in England and Wales, Gloucestershire remains a fox hunting hotspot and fox hunts have been killing with impunity.

“While we applaud councillors for taking steps towards ending hunting on council land, only a comprehensive outright ban will prevent public land being used for illegal hunting and the anti-social behaviour associated with hunts.”

Gloucestershire was identified as the worst county in England and Wales for suspected illegal hunting and incidents involving hunts wreaking havoc on rural communities, in figures published by the League earlier this year.

In total, there were 135 incidents of suspected illegal hunting in Gloucestershire between cub hunting beginning in August 2022 and the end of the full hunting season in March 2023. These include 80 incidents of hunts wreaking havoc in rural communities, 55 cases of suspected illegal hunting, and 39 foxes seen being chased by hunts.

The council has also asked that its Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee sets up a cross-party working group to investigate instances of illegal hunting and to report back to the council with its recommendations.

Polling commissioned by the League and conducted independently by Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus showed that three-quarters of voters in Gloucestershire back moves to strengthen hunting laws (76%).

The same polling found that, nationally, 76 per cent of rural voters were in favour of strengthening hunting laws.

Emily added: “It’s time for change and to strengthen hunting laws on a both national and local level, so we welcome the support of councillors across Gloucestershire.”

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