It’s been a strange and difficult year as, worldwide, we all tried to adapt to the ‘new normal’. We were also concerned that animal welfare may not be top of the priority list as the Scottish Government reacted to the COVID-19 crisis.
But while we’ve faced unprecedented challenges for animal welfare, such as the rise in the purchase of ‘lockdown puppies’’, there have also been a number of significant successes for Scotland’s animals this year. Here’s a selection of our 2020 animal welfare highlights that we’d like to share with you.
Mass scale mountain hare killings come to an end
On June 17th, in a landmark decision, MSPs voted to recognise mountain hares as a protected species under the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill, and putting an end to the mass scale mountain hare killings! Around 26,000 mountain hares are killed each year in Scotland by the driven grouse shooting industry. However, this mass scale killing will now come to an end on 28thFebruary 2021 when hares are granted legal protection. We will do our utmost to ensure any licensing scheme is robust.
Since 2016, we have been campaigning tirelessly tirelessly to end mountain hare persecution, and so while this was a huge win for the mountain hares , it was also monumental for our team and our supporters. OneKind is delighted to have been part of this victory and to see a successful conclusion to one of our most heartfelt campaigns to end the mass scale mountain hare killings.
Thank you to all our supporters for their passion, determination and advocacy actions towards our #HareCare campaign.
Grouse shooting to be subjected to licensing scheme
On November 26th, we celebrated along with our partners in the Revive the coalition for grouse moor reform, when the Scottish Government committed to introduce the licensing of grouse moors.
This was a milestone towards ending animal welfare violations on grouse moors. The discussion around grouse moors is a multi-faceted one and there are undoubtedly many benefits to licensing grouse shooting estates. But we need to see what the animal welfare benefits will actually be; we remain concerned about the use of cruel traps and snares on grouse moors.
In 2018, OneKind joined Revive, which is a groundbreaking initiative created to challenge the intensive management of Scotland’s uplands. Its vision is to ultimately put an end to driven grouse shooting and use the land to benefit the people of Scotland, in an animal, environmental and people friendly way.
Seal shooting banned
On the 10th June, we were delighted when the Scottish Government announced an effective ban on seal shooting! We have campaigned for an end to seal shooting for many years. Back in 2009, we released a report to highlight the animal welfare concerns of seal shooting and released a campaign video.
Figures on seal shooting released by Marine Scotland, showed that seal killing was creeping up again- with 32 seals having been shot in early 2020, compared to 21 in 2019. So we were very glad when the ban was announced! As the ban wasn’t implemented for animal welfare concerns, however, we also launched our celebratory campaign, Look Out For Seals, to show the Scottish Government just how much seals are loved by visitors and by the people of Scotland.
We exposed Forestry Land Scotland for allowing fox hunting foot packs to operate on Scotland’s public forests
Late last year, we heard that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) was allowing foot packs access to its land to ‘control’ foxes using dogs.
We submitted a Freedom of Information request (FOI) to find out what was going on. The communications released under the FOI revealed that it is indeed the case that FLS have been allowing foot packs onto their land to flush out foxes to be killed. At least one request for licenses was from those that wanted to kill foxes to protect game birds, like grouse and pheasants on neighboring land to the public forest. This is so the shooting industry can have a high number of birds to shoot for ‘sport’.
What’s more, appeals by foot packs made to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP, appeared to have caused any FLS decisions not to allow foot packs on the forest estate to be overturned. You can read more into our investigation here.
UK Government announced ban on the live export trade in England & Wales
Just this month, the UK Government announced that it would be banning the cruel live export trade by the end of 2021! This was a landmark moment for animal welfare and animal advocates who have been campaigning against the live export trade for decades! The ban is only set for England & Wales, however, as the Scottish Government continues to oppose a live exports ban.
The Scottish Government, did however, announce that it would halt the live export of unweaned calves. This was following the legal action taken against them by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).
It is illegal to export live calves for journeys longer than 8 hours, unless, after 9 hours, the animals are given a 1 hour rest for water and, ‘if necessary’, food. However, the Scottish Government was breaching its own legislation by exporting these animals to France on 23 hour long journeys. Following judicial review proceedings from CIWF, the Scottish Government instructed Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to not approve any further applications for unweaned live calf exports in breach of the 8 hour time limit.
We supported CIWF in their campaign to bring judicial proceedings and have been campaigning against live exports for many years. At current, close to 7,000 OneKind supporters have written to the Scottish Government to ask them to stop opposing a live exports ban.
Launched 2021 animal welfare manifesto
We launched our animal welfare manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections! Our manifesto outlines 19 specific animal welfare asks for the incoming Scottish Parliament and Government. We have included farmed, wild, companion and laboratory animals in our manifesto. We believe that the values of kindness, dignity, and compassion, which lie at the heart of Scotland’s National Performance Framework, should be extended to the non-human members of our community.
You can read our manifesto in full here.
Scottish Government to explore empathy training for offenders against animals
We were delighted when the Scottish Government announced it would commission a research project into the value of empathy training for offenders against animals- something we have been advocating for since 2014!
Most people accept that there is a positive bond between humans and animals, and yet harm and abuse still occur. We hope the research will establish that there are innovative ways of repairing that bond and promoting empathy for animals.
There are currently no existing animal-focused programmes in Scotland, but we have been carrying out research into models from overseas, and the potential for incorporating the restorative justice approach which helps people who have committed offences offer reparation for their actions.
Sharp drop in number of live reindeer displays
Last year, 15 venues or local authorities exhibited live reindeer Christmas displays. This year, only 4 announced plans to go ahead, although COVID-19 restrictions meant that 3 of these venues had to temporarily close. Two of these venues had not begun exhibiting reindeer yet. This means that less reindeer will suffer this festive season.
Reindeers are not suited to a live in captivity and are forced to endure stressful journeys to the displays, inappropriate environments during the displays, and a wealth of potential health issues even weeks after the displays.
We were also interviewed by Freedom For Animals about out campaign to end live reindeer displays.
You can read more about the welfare issues of live reindeer displays here.