Isn’t fox hunting already banned?
Yes, under the Wild Mammals Protection (Scotland) Act (2002), hunting wild mammals with dogs for sport was banned in Scotland. However, there are weaknesses in the legislation which need to be strengthened because it appears that the law is regularly ignored.
What are the weaknesses in the current legislation?
Hunts in Scotland can continue to kill foxes by practicing an exemption to the Protection of Wild Mammals Act called “flushing to guns”. This is supposed to involve using dogs to flush foxes out of cover when they should be shot. In England & Wales, a maximum of two dogs can be used for “flushing to guns”, but there is no limit in place in Scotland.
Covert video surveillance by the League Against Cruel Sports over the last three years and covering more than half of the ten mounted hunts in Scotland leads them to believe that the Scottish hunts regularly “flush to guns” with no guns. In his review of the legislation Lord Bonomy observed that there was supporting evidence “that the flushing from cover for pest control exception is a decoy for the continuation of some traditional hunting practices”.
Furthermore, in their submission to Lord Bonomy’s review Police Scotland said “Exceptions to the offence to “deliberately hunt a wild mammal with a dog are multiple and provide opportunities for exploitation by those who continually and deliberately offend.”
What can be done to fix this?
In 2016, Lord Bonomy published his review of hunting in Scotland. The report agreed there was law breaking under the ban, and further argues that current legislation “complicates unduly” the detection, investigation and prosecution of all alleged offences.
The Scottish Government launched a consultation based on Lord Bonomy’s recommendations regarding potential changes to the existing legislation which closes on 31 January 2018. This gives us a good opportunity to influence change by campaigning to have a full ban.
What do the Greens want to achieve?
We want to see the legislation strengthened to completely ban fox hunting with dogs in Scotland. The Scottish Government are likely to tighten the existing legislation to bring it in line with Lord Bonomy’s report. However, Lord Bonomy had no plans to address the “flushing to guns” loophole. So, we need to ramp the pressure on the Scottish Government to go further and introduce a real ban on hunting with dogs.