Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill: equality impact assessment

Equality impact assessment (EQIA) for the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill.

Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill - Equality Impact Assessment – Results

Title of Policy

Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill

Summary of aims and desired outcomes of Policy

To address widespread concerns that foxes and other wild mammals are being hunted (and killed) by dogs in contravention of the intention of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.

The aim and desired outcome of the policy is to minimise the risk of wild mammals being caught and killed by dogs in the course of hunting by placing restrictions on their use.

Directorate: Division: Team

Environment and Forestry: Natural Resources: Wildlife Legislation

Executive Summary

The public sector equality duty requires the Scottish Government to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice. It is a legislative requirement. Equality legislation covers the characteristics of: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. An equality impact assessment (EQIA) aims to consider how policy (a policy can cover: activities, functions, strategies, programmes, and services or processes) may impact, either positively or negatively, on different sectors of the population in different ways.

This EQIA has been undertaken to consider the impacts on equality of the policies contained in the Bill. The aim of the Bill is to achieve the Scottish Government’s objectives in relation to the use of dogs to hunt wild mammals, following two public consultations, and recommendations from Lord Bonomy's review of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 (the '2002 Act'). In particular, the Bill will introduce the following four new measures to:

  • Limit the number of dogs that can be used to search for, stalk or flush wild mammals from cover above ground to two.
  • Introduce a licensing regime for the use of more than two dogs to search for, stalk or flush wild mammals above ground in certain limited circumstances.
  • Limit the number of dogs that can be used to search for or flush foxes or mink from cover below ground to one.
  • Prohibit the activity known as trail hunting (the activity of directing a dog to find and follow an animal-based scent).

As part of the EQIA process, the Scottish Government considered potential impacts of the new measures on people with one or more protected characteristic. The EQIA concluded that the new measures are neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory on the basis or age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.


Since the 2002 Act came into force, the Scottish Government has continued to hear concerns from stakeholder organisations and the public about hunting with dogs. The 2002 Act has been criticised by various stakeholders for being too complex and lacking in clarity.

In order to address these concerns, in 2015 the Scottish Government appointed Lord Bonomy to undertake a review of the 2002 Act to consider whether it provided the necessary level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals, while at the same time allowing effective and humane control of those animals where needed.

Lord Bonomy’s report to the Scottish Government made a number of recommendations for legislative reform, the majority of which were accepted by the Scottish Government.

In the 2021-22 Programme for Government, the Scottish Government committed to introduce a Bill to strengthen the law relating to the use of dogs to hunt foxes and other wild mammals in the current Parliamentary session. The Bill will also introduce further measures such as prohibiting trail hunting.

The Scope of the EQIA

Current evidence demonstrates that the impact of the Bill on equality is limited and it does not impose any additional impacts on any individuals falling within any of the current protected characteristics when compared to the existing policy. Therefore, a full EQIA is not considered necessary.

Key Findings

The EQIA demonstrated that the proposed measures to regulate the use of dogs to hunt wild mammals will apply equally across all protected groups.

The new policy will affect anyone who wishes to hunt wild mammals using dogs and anyone convicted of an offence under the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill, regardless of protected characteristic.

From the evidence gathered, it has been identified that statistically the policy change will likely have the biggest impact on the protected characteristics of sex and age due to the fact that males and those aged between 22-41 are the most likely to be prosecuted for these types of offences.

However, it is a matter for the courts to decide the appropriate sentence to impose, after taking into account all the evidence and mitigating factors presented to them.

Recommendations and Conclusion

The EQIA has supported the development of a Scottish Government Bill which will introduce new measures which aim to minimise the risk of wild mammals being caught and killed by dogs in the course of hunting.

Based on an absence of concerns raised throughout the planning process and the findings of the EQIA, it is considered that the policy is neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010. It is not anticipated that the new measures themselves will directly impact on individuals with protected characteristics.

Any future implementation mechanisms will be subject to separate equality impact assessments if required.

The new measures do not seek to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. However, any plans, projects, strategies or policies which result from the new measures will seek to foster good relationships (as appropriate).



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