20 years after the introduction of Scotland’s largely ineffective fox hunting ‘ban’, leading animal welfare campaigns charity OneKind welcomes the introduction of the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill. It will replace the current legislation, which has loopholes that allow fox hunting to continue.
The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 prohibits hunting wild mammals with dogs, but has several exceptions that have been exploited over the years by hunting parties across Scotland. Inconsistent language, a lack of clarity, and an onerous burden of proof have also made enforcement by the authorities difficult. In practice, hunts have continued to meet regularly, under the guise of flushing foxes to guns for supposed population control.
OneKind Director, Bob Elliot, said:
“We are extremely glad to see this Bill, which is much needed and long overdue. We cannot quite believe that it has taken 20 years to have the prospect of a real fox hunting ban; we should have had one in 2002.
“A real ban on fox hunting is something that the Scottish people overwhelmingly support, and many are surprised that this cruel pastime has not yet been consigned to the history books.
“This new Bill will address the main deficiencies in the current fox hunting legislation, which is something OneKind has long been calling for. It will clarify the language and impose a limit of two dogs for any excepted activities, which should effectively end hunting with a pack of hounds. This is very welcome news indeed.
“However, we do not believe a licensing scheme to allow the use of more than two dogs in certain circumstances is justified. We are also dismayed to see an exception to allow the use of two dogs to ‘provide quarry for falconry, game shooting or deer stalking’. There should be no exceptions at all to the ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs, but if exceptions are to continue, then they must be reserved for extraordinary circumstances and only the use of two dogs should be permitted.”
OneKind also welcomes provisions within the Bill to ban trail hunting and expand the definition of wild mammal to include rabbits and some rodents, who are currently excluded.
On references to fox hunting as a form of ‘pest’ control, Bob said:
“It is encouraging to see that the new Bill does not contain any reference to ‘pest’ control. Words like ‘pest’ and ‘vermin’ should be banished from our vocabulary when discussing wild animals. It is unacceptable in a modern and compassionate society to vilify certain animals depending on their species. In cases where there is conflict between humans and other animals, the 7 principles of ethical wildlife control should be followed.”