Foxes are being hunted by dogs in Scotland and it’s clear that existing laws are unable to stop it.
I’ve seen the sickening evidence. Investigators for the League Against Cruel sports have filmed harrowing footage showing that mounted hunts are still using hounds to run down and tear apart foxes in the same way they did when the Scottish Parliament passed laws intended to ban hunting with dogs in 2002.
This isn’t just happening down south, it’s happening here in Scotland. The ten Scottish hunts are out two or three times a week from October to the end of March. This seems surprising when you consider that hunting with dogs was banned 15 years ago, but Lord Bonomy, who has carried out a review for the Scottish Government found that flushing to guns is used as “a decoy for the continuation of some traditional hunting practices.”
This exception makes the law difficult to enforce. In their submission to Lord Bonomy’s review Police Scotland said that exceptions like flushing to guns “provide opportunities for exploitation by those who continually and deliberately offend”.
Next to no one wants to see animals suffer the way a fox recently hunted in Kilbarchan suffered. Its post mortem showed that dogs tore into it and through its skin with such force that it cut through muscle and exposed its lung, leading to “significant unnecessary suffering” before its eventual death.
Around 800 foxes are killed in hunts every year and one in five is killed by packs of hounds in clear breach of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 2002. The Act is clearly failing. It appears that the practice of “flushing” foxes with packs of dogs to waiting guns is in many cases hunting with dogs under another name.
Those who callously take part in this form of ritualistic bloodsport are laughing at the law. The current law hasn't stopped cruelty to foxes and while the Scottish Government is carrying out a review of how current laws work, it is not considering an outright ban.
The review is too narrowly-focused and it has led me to believe that the only way we can put an end to this cruel ritual is via a members’ bill in the Scottish Parliament. That’s why I’m working with the League Against Cruel Sports and others to properly assess the shortfalls in our current laws and to determine how we reinforce them in such a way that we eliminate this cruelty once and for all.
The majority of folk are outraged at the fact that foxhunting still takes place. We know this because a credible poll by ScotPulse shows that eight in ten people think fox hunting should be illegal in Scotland with seven in ten absolutely committed to keeping a ban.
What’s more, the findings of this credible poll will make it even more difficult for supporters of bloodsports to claim that slaughtering foxes binds communities together, when we can clearly see how appalled the public is with this barbaric and outdated ritual. This claim, of course, is also a tacit admission that fox hunting is still happening in Scotland.
With a real ban we can demonstrate that Scotland really does care about the welfare of animals.
From what I’ve seen so far, the Scottish Government has some way to go to show that they truly care about preventing unnecessary suffering for animals.
I’ve been horrified by recent decisions on puppy tail docking and shock collars. We can’t allow government ministers to kick the can down the road on foxhunting. It's time to take a stand and I hope you agree.