Countryside Alliance accuses SNP of “worst examples of political prejudice” after party toughens fox hunting stance
Delegates at the SNP national council back plans to make it illegal for mounted hunts to use hounds to chase foxes from cover
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The Countryside Alliance has accused the SNP of demonstrating “the worst examples of political prejudice” after delegates voted to toughen the party’s stance on fox hunting.
With the Scottish Government currently reviewing fox hunting laws, which allow foxes to be flushed from cover and shot dead for pest control, delegates at the SNP national council shifted policy to back plans to make it illegal for mounted hunts to use hounds to chase foxes from cover, and for all other hunts to be limited to two dogs.
There is currently no restriction on the number of dogs that can be used by mounted or foot hunts.
The Scottish Government review, led by Lord Bonomy, suggested that around 800 foxes are killed by hunts every year in Scotland, with one in five foxes killed by packs of hounds.
Bonomy recommended introducing independent monitors to police hunts, while suggesting that landowners should be held legally responsible for hunts that take place on their property.
The SNP national council vote came a week after Green MSP Alison Johnstone announced plans to introduce a bill to the Scottish Parliament to ban fox hunting in Scotland.
But while animal welfare campaigners welcomed the SNP policy shift, Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart accused the party of ignoring all of Lord Bonomy’s findings, saying it was “quite extraordinary that any politicians are giving serious consideration to returning to the pointless pursuit of hunting”.
Stewart told Holyrood: “In the light of such a detailed and robust review of the legislation it is disappointing that SNP activists have reverted to the worst examples of political prejudice. The motion passed by the SNP National Council ignores all Lord Bonomy's findings and conclusions.
“Bizarrely it even discriminates between those who choose to control foxes from the back of a horse, and those who do so from quad bikes or on foot, which can have absolutely no relevance to the welfare of foxes.
“At a time when rural communities in Scotland face so many challenges, not least the fundamental changes that Brexit will bring, it is quite extraordinary that any politicians are giving serious consideration to returning to the pointless pursuit of hunting.
“It would be a sad day for the Scottish Parliament, and Scottish politicians, if the long-settled issue of hunting with hounds were to return to the top of the political agenda.”
Jennifer Dunn, senior public affairs officer for the League Against Cruel Sports, said she was “absolutely delighted” by the vote.
She said: “Our investigators have, over the last three years, consistently uncovered evidence of hounds being used to chase down and kill foxes. In many cases, there were no guns to be seen, hunts are using loopholes in the current legislation to flout the law.”
“The Government need to listen to their own party activists, the 20,000 people who signed our petition to ban hunting, and the 85 per cent of the Scottish public who want a ban, and commit to ending the barbaric cruelty of foxhunting.”
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