Think fox hunting is banned? Think again. We’re still waiting for the Scottish Government to close the loopholes in legislation that allow fox hunting to continue. The short story below is just one example of wildlife persecution still occurring in Scotland’s countryside.
She lies down at the foot of the meadow, her whiskered nose tucked into her thick, fluffy tail as she tries to slip into a peaceful sleep.
A tangled thicket of brambles rustles behind her before a pair of blackbirds fly out into the dawn. Bees buzz quietly as they begin the morning’s pollination. She stirs once, her ears pricking with each sound. She is tired, in need of sleep after a long night of hunting and scavenging. A few scraps of food hidden among the litter of an old campsite managed to settle her hunger for a while, but the faint ache in her stomach calls for something more substantial. Later this evening, she will continue her search for food, but now, she must rest. The early morning sun shines on her red coat, wrapping her in faint, warm light. The birds sing their greetings and she begins to drift off…
A distant howl stirs her from her slumber.
Her ears suddenly snap upwards and her plans of sleep vanish. The sound of barking hounds gathers on the horizon. She sits up to attention, pupils wide and alert.
The barking grows louder, and she begins to hear the pounding of feet on the ground.
The ground feels uneven under her paws as she scrambles frantically for her escape. She sees trees ahead, and races towards cover in a small nearby forest. Barks and yelps fill the air and she can hear the muffled voices of humans behind them. Ears flattened against her skull, she pushes on, exhausted, darting between the thick clusters of trees. She sees the forest’s edge, as the sunlight filters through the old pine trees. The wind lashes against her face as she breaks out from the cover of the forest and into another field.
How long can she keep this up?
She is in open space now. Too late to go back; the dogs are hunting her down and they are gaining on her. Desperately looking in each direction, she scans the scene for an escape route. There is a small road ahead, on the other side of the field. Perhaps if she can make it there and cross safely, the cars will scare her pursuers and distract them from her scent…
A chorus of yelping grows in the forest. She musters up the rest of her energy to make a final break for escape. There is nowhere to hide while she runs; the odd wildflower dotting the vast green-brown fields standing between the fox and her safety.
Her paws lift from the ground as she positions herself to jump; one last leap for her life.
A loud bang accompanies a sharp pain and she falls to the ground.
A terrifying multi-species cacophony surrounds her.
She breathes her last breath and she is gone.
No more running.
No more buzzing bees.
No more blackbirds flying out from the brambles.
“Got it!” a smug voice guffaws in delight as he grabs her corpse by the tail, inspecting his kill. She joins the 800 foxes killed each year in Scotland by these barbaric hunts.
It’s time for a real ban on fox hunting.
The Scottish Government promised to put an end to this. The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 prohibits the deliberate hunting of a wild mammal with a dog. However, due to a long and confusing list of exemptions, the flaws in its application to fox hunting have become increasingly obvious. For example, an exemption for flushing is interpreted as allowing lengthy pursuits of the fox by a full pack of hounds. The “accidental” killing of a fox by dogs is also exempted. The fox in our story escaped such a fate, but many foxes still face a cruel and prolonged death due to the loopholes in the law. New legislation to close these loopholes, which was delayed by COVID 19, must be introduced as a matter of priority.
There are still ten hunts in Scotland, killing over 800 foxes a year. We are campaigning for a full ban on fox hunting in Scotland, and we need your help to do so. Please help us to continue with our campaigns and investigations and save Scotland’s foxes by donating here.