A leading animal welfare charity has said it is “deeply disappointed” that fox hunting has been excluded from the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.  

In January this year the Scottish Government announced its intentions to bring forward a Bill to strengthen current fox hunting legislation outlining steps to be taken to close loopholes in the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.  

However, this commitment has now been dropped from the Programme for Government announced today (Tuesday) in the Scottish Parliament. 

Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, Robbie Marsland said: “The League is deeply disappointed that fox hunting has not been included in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.

“Following a lengthy process the Government’s Bonomy Review concluded in January with the Minister outlining plans to bring forward a Bill to implement the vast majority of Lord Bonomy’s six recommendations, as well as pledging to go further by reducing the number of hounds from a full pack to just two. This was a real victory for common sense and significant progress in improving wild animal welfare. 

“While we appreciate the pressures on Government and Parliamentary time due to Brexit we had hoped this important Bill would be included today to enable Parliament to close loopholes in the current legislation and really ban hunting in Scotland.”

A public consultation is currently underway on Green MSP Alison Johnstone’s Members Bill to improve the protection and conservation of wild mammals. This includes measures to end the use of dogs in the hunting of wild mammals and improve legal protection for certain species. 

Robbie Marsland, added: “We have always been supportive of Alison Johnstone’s Bill and the implications this would have on fox hunting in Scotland and had hoped this would compliment legislative commitments from the Scottish Government. 

"However, this is no longer the case and we will support Ms Johnstone’s Bill in any way we can.”

Hunting foxes with dogs was banned in Scotland in 2002, two years before the rest of the UK. In seventeen years there has only been one successful prosecution of mounted huntsmen for illegal hunting. The League has been campaigning for the law to be strengthened to close loopholes which it believes allow hunts to hunt in a manner which is very similar to pre-ban, traditional hunting. 

-ENDS-

Notes to editor

  1. The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).
  2. Media enquiries to Louise Robertson on 07930 539832 / [email protected]