Behind the battle lines as Cornwall’s Western Hunt becomes the hunted

1st March 2020

The West Cornwall Hunt Saboteurs follow, monitor, and attempt to sabotage the plans and movements of the horse riders and hounds in an attempt to expose one of the county’s oldest hunts.

Cat from the West Cornwall Hunt Saboteurs (Image: Greg Martin)

For the past six months or so, twice as week, a strategic battle has been playing out on the most westerly moors in Cornwall. And yet, hardly anyone knows it is happening.

The Western Hunt, one of the oldest hunts in Cornwall, founded 200 years ago in 1820 by Sir Rose Price, has become the focus of Cornwall’s newest hunt saboteur group.

The hunt have now become the hunted, as every Saturday and Tuesday, the West Cornwall Hunt Saboteurs follow, monitor, and attempt to sabotage the plans and movements of the horse riders and hounds.

Fox hunting with dogs was banned in England and Wales following the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004, which came into force on February 18, 2005.

Following the introduction of the law, hunts now follow artificially laid trails. However, during the 15 years since the ban was enforced, there have been hundreds of allegations of illegal fox hunting, with Devon and Cornwall Police involved in one such allegation at the beginning of February.

Conversely, earlier this year, Counter Terrorism Policing South East wrote a guide entitled ‘Safeguarding young people and adults from ideological extremism’, in which they highlighted participation in direct action against fox hunting as a potential threat for local authorities to be aware of.

I wanted to better understand the situation in West Cornwall where old and new are clashing. So, aware that the Counter Terrorism Police may be listening, I tentatively made contact with the first and last saboteur group in the land, and arranged to go out with them to sabotage the first and last hunt in the land.

They advised me to bring waterproof clothing, proper walking boots, and plenty of sandwiches.

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