Limitations on dog numbers to be introduced.
Legislation will be introduced in this Parliament to close potential loopholes in the law protecting foxes and other wild mammals.
Delivering a statement to Parliament on improving animal welfare, Minister for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon announced her intention to bring forward a bill that will implement changes proposed by the Right Honourable Lord Bonomy’s review on the subject.
These changes will limit to two the number of dogs that can be used to flush or find a fox.
The Minister also announced an intention to explore the option of a licensing scheme to permit the use of more than two dogs, if it were deemed necessary for pest control.
Additionally, the bill will include pre-emptive measures to address the likelihood of ‘trail-hunting’ becoming established in Scotland.
Ms Gougeon said:
“The welfare of animals in Scotland, whether domestic, farmed, or wild, is one of this government’s highest priorities and so, when it became apparent that legislation introduced in 2002 to protect foxes from unnecessary hunting wasn’t having the desired effect, we wanted to take firm action.
“We asked Lord Bonomy to undertake a review into how we can provide a sufficient level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals, whilst allowing for the effective and humane control of them when absolutely necessary, and published a consultation which attracted nearly 19,000 responses.
“After careful consideration of those responses, I’m pleased to say that we will be taking forward many of the recommendations in Lord Bonomy’s report to clarify and strengthen the Protection of Wild Mammals Act.
“However, not only do we hope to implement the vast majority of those recommendations, we will be going further. We’re going to strengthen our current legislation and plan to introduce measures that go beyond the rest of the UK in terms of protecting the welfare of our wild mammals.”
Fox hunting is currently covered by the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002
Trail hunting involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed. Animal welfare sceptics have alleged that trail hunts are being used as cover for hunting live foxes