North Yorkshire councillors reject call to ban trail hunts on council land
Last updated Nov 17, 2023
Trail hunting. Picture: Donald Macauley.
Trail hunting. Picture: Donald Macauley.

Councillors in North Yorkshire have rejected calls to ban trail hunting on North Yorkshire Council owned land.

This week, Labour councillor Rich Maw, who represents Weaponness and Ramshill, and Green councillor Arnold Warneken, who represents Ouseburn, tabled a motion at a full council meeting to prohibit the practice.

Trail hunting involves laying an animal scent, usually urine, for hounds to track and is followed by a group on foot or horseback.

The practice is legal, but organisations such as animal welfare charity the RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports have called for it to be banned.

Cllr Maw and Warneken said in their motion the hunts had been used as a “loophole to carry on hunting foxes and other animals”.

At a meeting on Thursday, Cllr Warneken said:

“The issue is that we’re trying to ask this council to stop an illegal activity taking place on their land and any measures that we can do to achieve that.

“I think that’s ethically and morally responsible, if we can do it within the law.”

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Conservative and Independents Cllr Andrew Williams, of Ripon Minister and Moorside, said he had no desire to stop people undertaking a “legal pursuit” and called for the motion to be rejected.

The motion was rejected by 47 votes to 26.

Ahead of the vote, the Countryside Alliance, which previously described the call as a “waste of time”, contacted councillors urging them to vote it down.

Following the meeting, Polly Portwin, director at the Countryside Alliance, said:

“While we are pleased that North Yorkshire Council has finally kicked this divisive motion out, we are incredibly disappointed that so much vital council time and resources has been wasted on debating a lawful activity.

“To be frank, Cllr Maw should apologise for demonising significant swathes of North Yorkshire’s rural community. In the future he should use his time as an elected member to pursue an agenda which benefits the people living in the Weaponness & Ramshill division. The trail hunting community across Yorkshire provides invaluable benefits to the countryside, both socially and economically.”

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