As hunts in Scotland prepare for two of the biggest dates in the hunting calendar - Boxing Day and New Year’s Day - the League Against Cruel Sports continues to call on the Scottish Government to strengthen the law before next year’s hunting season starts in November 2017 – making this year’s parades the last where hunts can legally exploit current loopholes in the law.

The review into hunting in Scotland, published last month, found there to be considerable law-breaking being committed by hunts under the current ban. This led Lord Bonomy to make the recommendation that the law should be both clarified, strengthened and properly enforced to close the loopholes currently exploited by hunts to chase and kill foxes and other wild mammals with packs of dogs in Scotland.

Robbie Marsland, the Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said:

“The ball is now firmly in the Scottish Government’s court.  Public opinion in Scotland wants to see fox hunting banned, the Government thought they had banned it but as our evidence,  Lord Bonomy and Police Scotland have revealed, hunts are running a coach and horses through the current legislation.

“In short, the law isn’t fit for purpose and, in keeping with the commitments made by the First Minister to strengthen the law if it were necessary, we look to the Government to strengthen it by November 2017 – in time to stop next year’s hunting season.”

Last year, League Against Cruel Sports Investigators produced video evidence showing that fox hunting is carrying on in Scotland the same way that it always has, despite the ban.

Shockingly, mounted hunts were seen still using hounds to run down and tear apart foxes in the same way that they did before the Scottish Parliament passed laws intended to ban hunting in 2002.

The Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, has said she will consider the recommendations in the recent review and respond. Following the publication of the review, the League set up an online petition calling on the Environment Secretary to respond to the review in a timely manner and promise to take action. The petition is nearing 10,000 signatures at the time of publication.

Mr Marsland continued: “No right thinking person wants to see animals suffer in the way a fox recently hunted in Kilbarchan suffered. Its autopsy showed that dogs tore into its flank, through its skin and muscle, exposing its lung. It had suffered ‘significant unnecessary suffering’. 

“We have the evidence, an independent review has recommended the law be changed, and now we need the Scottish Government to change the law.”

Scottish residents can sign the League’s petition calling on the Scottish Government to act now to stop the cruelty here.

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Notes to Editors

1. The League made a comprehensive submission to the review of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act including over 100 hours of damning video evidence showing hunts appearing to behave in a way that has not been legal since the Scottish hunting ban came into force in 2002.

2. The independent review of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act led by senior judge Lord Bonomy, was ordered by Scottish ministers last year after it saw footage obtained by the League during last year’s 2014/15 hunt season. The footage revealed highly questionable behaviour from half of Scotland’s hunts, including absolutely no sign of any legitimate ‘flushing to guns’ - which is what Scottish hunts claim to do so as to abide by the current law

3. The review of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act made the following recommendations:

  • The definition of “hunting” needs to be strengthened. It should be “to search for, stalk, flush, chase, pursue or course.”
  • It should be made clear that an offence occurs when a person “uses, or causes or permits, a dog to hunt a wild mammal”, or a person “intentionally or recklessly hunts a wild animal with a dog.”
  • The onus of proof should be reversed so that the offender has to prove that they were using an exemption rather than the prosecution to show that they were not.
  • Landowners should be guilty of an offence if illegal hunting occurs on their land
  • Foxes should be shot “as soon as possible” not “once safe to do so”.
  • Time limits for prosecution should be up to 3 years
  • A voluntary protocol should be used where the police would be informed of the whereabouts, activities and the individual roles of all hunts. This would mean that the identities of all concerned would be known in the case of any alleged illegal activity
  • A system of Independent monitoring of hunts should be established

4. Polling carried out by IPSOS Mori in 2015, commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports revealed that 81 per cent of people in Scotland did not want fox hunting to be made legal. https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3576/Majority-of-Scots-oppose-fox-hunting-ban-being-lifted.aspx

 

For further information, polling tables, comment or interview requests, please contact the League’s Press Office on 01483 524250 or email [email protected]