The author explores the place of animals in rural politics. Recognising that rurality is socially constructed by its participants, he examines how animals are represented in constructs of the rural and in political debates arising from contests between conflicting constructs. In particular, two case studies are discussed—one concerning an attempt to ban staghunting on public-owned land in Somerset; the other concerning the so-called ‘BSE crisis' in Britain in 1996. In both cases representations of animals are mobilised in support of discourses of rurality and nature and particular political objectives. Yet, although animals are central to these debates, they are also voiceless and powerless and remain marginalised from the political process.