Thought fox hunting was banned in Scotland? Think again. There are still ten hunts in Scotland, killing over 800 foxes a year. OneKind is campaigning for the loopholes to be closed and for a real hunting ban in Scotland.
One of OneKind’s proudest moments was back in 2002 when we played a key role in persuading the Scottish Parliament to introduce a law which would ban fox hunting with hounds for sport. The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, as it is now known, also paved the way to the 2004 Hunting Act, which banned hunting with dogs in England and Wales. These were landmark moments for the animal welfare movement in the UK, and they left many of us hoping that we were on the beginning of a journey to a changed relationship with wild animals in this country.
Whilst the Act has had some success in controlling hare coursing, incredibly fox hunting continues much as it did. Here’s three facts that reflect this:
- Before the ‘ban’ was introduced in 2002 there were ten operational mounted fox hunts in Scotland. There are still ten today.
- According to the hunts themselves, they kill about 800 foxes every year.
- There have been a grand total of zero successful prosecutions of mounted hunts whereas there have been a series of prosecutions in England and Wales under the more robust Hunting Act.
Why does fox hunting continue in Scotland?
Because exemption clauses that were introduced during the Bill’s passage effectively undermined the legislation, acting as loopholes that allows hunts to continue under the guise of pest control.
The law bans intentional hunting, but it does permit the use of packs of dogs to ‘flush’ – chase out of cover – foxes as long as the intention is to shoot the fox once it emerges. ‘Accidental’ killing of the fox by hounds is also permitted.
The hunts are very honest about what’s going on. The Buccleuch Hunt observes that “all Scottish packs use the exemption allowing foxes to be flushed to guns”. You can see what this means in practice in the hours and hours of footage of Scottish hunts taken by the League Against Cruel Sports’ investigation that appear to show hunts pursuing foxes as they used to. In this footage guns are a rare sight.
What is the Scottish Government doing?
Following campaigning by OneKind and the investigative work by the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, the Scottish Government commissioned a review of the law that was meant to have banned fox hunting, the Protection of Wild Mammals Act. Lord Bonomy carried our this review, and OneKind and the League inputted into the review alongside pro-hunt organisations. Lord Bonomy’s review put forward some very welcome recommendations that would tighten the regulation around fox hunting by both mounted hunts and ‘footpacks’. You can read more about the review and our response to it here.
OneKind is calling for all of the recommendations made by Lord Bonomy to tighten the law to be implemented by the Scottish Government as soon as possible. In addition, we are calling for an outright ban of mounted hunts.
The Scottish Government will respond and consult on Lord Bonomy’s recommendations in due course. In the meantime, we were delighted to welcome the following statement by the First Minister when she was quizzed on the Scottish Government’s approach to fox hunting:
“I have always been an opponent of fox hunting and remain an opponent of fox hunting… Be under no doubt at all this government opposes fox hunting and that’s the position we have long taken and the position we continue to take.”
Our job now is to hold the First Minister to these words and to deliver a real hunting ban in Scotland before the end of the current Scottish Parliament in 2020.
What is OneKind doing?
OneKind has worked on hunting with dogs in Scotland for decades. As well as campaigning for a ban, our experts have developed and put forward a suit of recommendations that would close the loopholes in the law and deliver a ban. Our investigations and research have also contributed to both a better understanding and awareness of fox hunting in Scotland and the impact it has on the welfare of foxes.