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We created a map of North Yorkshire showing what effect a council ban on hunting could have

A core committee of North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) will discuss a motion to ban hunting from council-owned land on 11 September. We’ve created a map to show how a ban might affect hunting in the county.

Labour councillor Rich Maw originally proposed the motion for debate in July. However, the council failed to debate it at the time. Instead, chair David Ireton passed the issue onto the council’s Corporate and Partnerships Overview, which will discuss the issue at its 11 September meeting. Maw explained that this is a public meeting so anyone is able to attend and have their say. It will then return to the full council for debate on 15 November.

Maw described the passing of the motion over to the overview committee as Ireton kicking it into the long grass. Nonetheless, he said it would provide the council with an opportunity to learn more about hunting and why it’s abhorrent. This was, in part, a result of the council’s apparent unawareness as to whether hunting took place on its land.

As a result, Protect the Wild has created a map that shows council-owned land that might have hunting on it:

This lists NYCC-owned land outside of urban areas and doesn’t include assets such as primary schools where there will be no hunting anyway. It is adapted from the council’s own register of land and assets.

Hunting, assaults and traffic offences in North Yorkshire

There are at least 13 hunts operating in North Yorkshire, nearly all of which are foxhound packs. The Hunt Saboteurs Association previously outlined a number of significant incidents connected to some of these hunts. They include the Bedale Hunt killing a fox near Great Langton in February 2023.

A Protect the Wild review of hit reports posted by sab and monitor groups showed the Bedale Hunt was responsible for a range of cruel and criminal behaviour in the 2023/23 season. Apart from the previously mentioned kill, Teesside Against Blood Sports reported the hunt chased a fox near Firby Hall in November 2022. Jorvik Hunt Sabs also said that a rider with the hunt whipped one of its members in the head during a meet at Yallerforth in February.

The Bedale Hunt are far from the only perpetrators of such acts, though. Sabs and monitors have reported similar behaviour from nearly every single hunt in the county. The Derwent Hunt are one of the most prolific offenders including apparently killing a fox near Brompton, chasing a fox just a few miles away at Wykeham, and headbutting a member of East Yorkshire Coast Hunt Sabs during a meet at Wilton.

The Middleton Hunt is also liable to cause problems for the good humans and wildlife of North Yorkshire. Jorvik Hunt Sabs shared footage of its hounds chasing a fox during a New Year’s Eve meet near Acklam. This was just one of the numerous chases that anti-hunting activists witnessed the Middleton Hunt engaging in, in addition to two reports of the hunt killing foxes. York Anti-Hunt League even shared a photo of the hunt having blocked a badger sett near its kennels at Birdsall during a meet in March. York Anti-Hunt League also said on 24 July that police have charged the Middleton Hunt with Hunting Act offences, though details are not yet publicly available.

Groups have also claimed and shared evidence of other hunts chasing and killing foxes. They include the Sinnington Hunt, Cleveland Hunt and Hurworth Hunt. In total, activists publicly reported witnessing hunts killing foxes six times and hunts chasing foxes a further eight times. Its worth noting that these account just for incidents that happened in the presence of anti-hunting activists. Innumerable more likely happened away from the public eye.

There are also plenty of other reports of unsavoury acts including hunts chasing hares and deer, traffic offences, and assault. And all of this was just during the most recent full hunting season. As West Yorkshire Hunt Saboteurs outlined, taking past seasons into account results in a legacy of cruel and anti-social behaviour.

Clearly, the hunts of North Yorkshire are no less a law unto themselves than anywhere else in England. Is this something that the county council want to be seen supporting by continuing to permit hunts to use its land?

What hunts will be impacted?

The most pertinent question is, of course, how much land would hunts actually lose if NYCC passed a ban? There are large swathes of North Yorkshire where the council doesn’t hold any land or assets, including around Thirsk and across the Yorkshire Dales.

However, there are two clusters where the numerous farms and farmed land is council-owned. They are the areas around Allerton/Little Ouseburn and Selby. The former is within country hunted by the York North and West of Yore Hunt, while the latter is part of the Badsworth, Bramham, and York South Hunt’s country. The Northern Counties Mink Hounds also hunt along the River Wharfe, nearby Selby.

Screenshow of map showing North Yorks council-owned land and assets around Allerton and Selby

This is not exhaustive, of course. NYCC owns land and assets in the country of hunts across the region. Taking this land away would be a huge disruption both materially and psychologically. Materially, it could lead the hunts to lose meets or land they’re able to cross; psychologically it reminds the hunts that they’re simply not welcome in areas they consider home turf.

A slate of landowners have already banned hunting from their land. They include the National Trust, Forestry England, United Utilities and National Resource Wales. Meanwhile, many other councils have already passed anti-hunting policies both historically and recently. Councillors for Gloucestershire County Council, for example, recently reaffirmed the anti-hunting commitment the council made in 1993. More recently, Cheshire West and Chester Council passed a new motion against hunting in 2021.

Sabs, monitors and members of the public have repeatedly exposed trail hunting nationwide as a scam. It’s clear that the hunts of North Yorkshire are no different. Until a new and more robust anti-hunting law is in place, NYCC has an opportunity to support Maw’s motion and show that it isn’t buying into the hunting industry’s lies.

Consider attending the public council meeting at County Hall, Northallerton, on 11 September. Meanwhile, continue sending emails to North Yorkshire councillors letting them know why they should support a ban on hunting.