OneKind animal protection charity has hailed as “game-changing” a proposal by Alison Johnstone MSP to introduce a real ban on fox hunting with dogs in Scotland, and to give full protection to wild hares.
Alison Johnstone’s proposal for a Protection and Conservation of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill (the “fox and hare Bill”) was launched on Monday 24 June with support from OneKind, the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, and the International Federation for Animal Welfare. The three organisations formed a powerful coalition 20 years ago, leading to the passage of the current anti-hunting legislation, the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.
However, the charities have long been concerned that the Act was weakened during its passage by the introduction of exceptions that have been exploited as loopholes, allowing mounted fox hunting to continue much as before, in the guise of “pest control”.
The proposed new Bill will close these loopholes and improve the protection of foxes and hares in Scotland, by ending the use of dogs in the hunting of wild mammals, primarily foxes; and improving the protection of mountain hares, brown hares, and red foxes by licensing all control. Some killing of foxes and hares would be permitted as a last resort, using means other than dogs, and as part of a transparent system with regulatory oversight.
Bob Elliot, OneKind Director, said:
“We’re delighted that Alison Johnstone’s consultation has been launched. It is high time that this legislation, which has frustrated the police and other authorities for almost two decades, is made clear and workable.
“From the introduction of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, OneKind fieldworkers have seen breaches, such as the flushing of foxes that were not immediately shot, and prolonged pursuit of exhausted animals. The hunts have been playing with the legislation and that has to end.
“At the same time, we must end the culling of thousands of Scotland’s mountain hares every year – partly for sport – which has potentially serious consequences for both conservation and welfare.
“OneKind wants to see full recognition under Scottish law that both wild and domestic animals are sentient, and that the unquestioning infliction of suffering in the name of ‘pest’ control and sport simply cannot continue. If the fox and hare Bill is successful, it will be a game-changing step in that direction.”
The Scottish Government has also announced proposals to reform the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, following the review of the legislation by Lord Bonomy.
Notes to editor:
- OneKind is Scotland’s leading animal campaigns charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals. OneKind works to expose cruelty and persecution through investigations and research covering Scotland’s wildlife, farm animals and pets. Find out more about our work at onekind.scot