Associate feature: Time for a real ban on foxhunting
Fox - credit: Pixababy
Although the Scottish Parliament intended to ban fox hunting soon after it was re-founded, by passing the Protection of Wild Mammals Act (Scotland) 2002, fox hunting continues in parts of Scotland in the same way it has for centuries. Rather than the fox being shot, as the legislation intended, foxes are still run down and torn apart by dogs.
In the 15 years since the “ban” was passed, only two huntsmen have been convicted. In June this year, video evidence gathered by League monitors was instrumental in the court case, involving the Jed Forest Hunt.
The League are delighted the case was successful. But what the proceedings demonstrated is that the current law is vague, inadequate and riddled with loopholes. Defence witnesses argued a fox was “in cover” when it was clearly visible, and despite the footage clearly showing cruelty, the case is being appealed.
The Scottish Government haven’t ignored the need to reform Scotland’s hunting laws – they’ve commissioned Lord Bonomy to review the legislation, a process which produced several recommendations to strengthen the law, including the introduction of hunt monitors and vicarious liability.
The Government have also set up a working group of stakeholders to agree a code of conduct for hunting. The existing code used by hunters was in operation on the day of the Jed Forest Hunt incident, demonstrating it is inadequate. But, as it stands, even if a more humane code is agreed, it will have no basis in law.
The League Against Cruel Sports supports the recommendations of Bonomy’s review, and is a member of the stakeholder group.
But we need to go further.
At the moment, the SNP have committed to protecting the England and Welsh Hunting Act. This law limits the number of dogs that can be used to flush foxes to cover to two, whereas in Scotland there is no limited, making it much more likely that the hounds will chase down and kill the fox, rather than the fox being shot.
It makes no sense that the SNP have a different policy on foxhunting on either side of the Border.
It’s time for the Scottish Government to change the law so that wild animals in Scotland have the same degree of protection as in England and Wales.
You can support our campaign by signing our petition to really ban hunting in Scotland – www.league.org.uk/scothuntban
Jennifer Dunn is senior public affairs officer for the League Against Cruel Sports