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 a full ban on fox hunting in Scotland.
In 2002 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 also paved the way to the 2004 Hunting Act, which banned hunting with dogs in England and Wales.
These were landmark animal welfare successes in the UK and indicated a more positive relationship with wild animals.
Fox hunting still takes place in Scotland
Unfortunately, while the Act has had some success in controlling hare coursing, fox hunting continues much as it did before the 2002 ban.
Before the ban 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.
Why does fox hunting continue in Scotland?
Fox hunting continues because exemption clauses in the legislation act as loopholes that allow 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 Buccleuch Hunt has commented that “all Scottish packs use the exemption allowing foxes to be flushed to guns”. You can see what this means in practice in the footage obtained during an investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports here. In this footage guns are a rare sight.
Low conviction rate
Prosecuting those that fox hunt can be very difficult because of the legislation, and even Police Scotland themselves have admitted that the fox hunting legislation is ‘unworkable’.
There has only been one successful conviction of a mounted hunt in Scotland.
What is the Scottish Government doing?
“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.” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, 2017
The Scottish Government has committed to reforming Scotland’s fox hunting legislation to make it more effective and enforceable. While flushing by dogs will still be permitted, it proposes to restrict the number of dogs to two, except under licence. We will be urging the government not to license any packs of dogs- wild animals need protection from unnecessary suffering.
Unfortunately, although a consultation on the new measures was imminent, it was announced on 1 April that the planned bill has now been halted, as a consequence of focusing government resources on efforts to deal with the COVID-19 virus.
What is OneKind doing?
OneKind has been campaigning for a fox hunting ban for decades. Our recent highlights include:
- Following campaigning by OneKind, the Scottish Government announced a consultation on the future of fox hunting in Scotland. We encouraged our supporters to respond and 98% of the 18,787 respondents supported a real and effective fox hunting ban.
- We held a fox hunting rally in the lead up the 2017 General Election following comments from the Prime Minister that she would give Parliament a free vote on fox hunting.
- Thousands of our supporters contacted their MSPs and/or the Cabinet Secretary asking for clarification on the Scottish Government’s plans on fox hunting in 2018.
- In March 2018, we held a second fox hunting march and rally with the League Against Cruel Sports and IFAW. Around 1000 people marched with us and we were supported by Ricky Gervais, Bill Oddie, Chris Packham and Peter Egan.
- In September 2019, we supported the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill and encouraged our supporters to respond to the consultation.
- In March 2020, we revealed that Forestry Land Scotland was granting permission to fox hunting foot packs to hunt on public land and secured media coverage.