An end of year round up with the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland

It’s been a fantastic year for the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland! Exciting developments in the Scottish parliament have kept us extremely busy with the government introducing a new fox hunting bill and proposing new legislation for reforming Scotland’s grouse moors.

We thought this would be a great opportunity to share what the team has been up to this year…

Fox Hunting;

In Scotland, we thought fox hunting was banned twenty years ago, but evidence from our fieldworker’s showed that hunts continue to exploit loopholes in the law. After many years, the League has campaigned to strengthen the flawed Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act of 2002 - by showing footage at party conferences, on tv, in the courts and online.

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Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill

At the start of this year (25th February), the Scottish Government published a new Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill.

To show our support, the League helped organise a For the Foxes march, on October 29th - attended by hundreds of people alongside TV presenter and conservationist Megan McCubbin - to send a strong message urging the Scottish Government to secure a real ban on fox hunting and snares.

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For the Foxes march down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Our march and rally was a huge success, involving powerful speeches by the directors of the three charities organising the march, Scottish Labour MSP, Colin Smyth, and Scottish Greens MSP, Arianne Burgess. Speeches via video included the Scottish Environment Minister, and Naturalist and TV  presenter Chris Packham. We were encouraged to hear our MSP speakers reiterate their support to help push for legislative change, and the Minster sharing her commitment to delivering effective amendments to the bill.

The Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill has passed stage one and is currently in stage two which should be completed by end of the year and stage three should be in spring. We hope that the resulting Act will finally put an end to mounted fox hunting in Scotland.

Grouse Shooting;

Another big campaign for League Against Cruel Sports Scotland involved us providing a spotlight on the detrimental impacts grouse shooting has on Scotland’s grouse moors.

Our main area of focus was to tackle the ‘killing to kill’ which happens on Scotland’s grouse moors - just so more grouse can be shot for ‘sport’. On the 9th June we launched our ‘killing to kill’ campaign on social media and asked our supporters to consider writing to the Scottish Environment Minister – to end the killing to kill culture on our moors and beyond.  The Minister responded by saying there was a high number of responses from our call to action and a licencing system was in her plans.

‘Play Your Cards Right’ at the Scottish Parliament

As the Scottish Government considers a grouse moor licencing scheme, the REVIVE Coalition set up an exhibition at the Scottish Parliament between the 28th and 30th June. The way we presented the information was inspired by the Play Your Cards Right game from the 90’s.

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Robbie Marsland, Director of League Against Cruel Sports Scotland with Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan

This was a great opportunity to interact with and inform MSP’s and their staff about the ‘circle of destruction’ which surrounds the grouse shooting industry. We had a series of successful engagements, one of our first being the Scottish Environment Minister, and other positive discussions with MSP’s from different parties, all backing our REVIVE pledge. We are thoroughly looking forward to our next trip to the Parliament.

SNP and Greens Conferences

As we were expecting a grouse moor reform bill to be published, the league and members of REVIVE attended both the SNP conference (October 8th-10th) and Greens conference (October 15th) to campaign for real reform on Scotland’s grouse moors. Robbie Marsland, Director of League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, chaired both the SNP and Greens fringe meetings, with Campaign Manager for REVIVE Max Wiszniewski speaking on the panel too.

SNP conference

Our SNP fringe meeting attracted around 200 party delegates, with the Scottish Environment Minister, Policy Strategy Lead from John Muir Trust, and the director of think-tank Common Weal, all joining on our panel.

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REVIVE fringe meeting at SNP Conference

Greens Conference

Another successful and well-attended fringe meeting was held at the Greens conference, with the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Lorna Slater and the Senior Policy Officer from John Muir Trust joining our panel.

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REVIVE fringe meeting at Greens Conference

Breaking new ground in the media

The League has used media opportunities to take on the opposition too – one of these being featured in Journalist Neil Mackay’s grouse story – published at the start of the shooting season in the Herald Scotland. This piece was based on a series of interviews from REVIVE coalition members. We used this as a tactic to detract the spotlight from the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ and reiterate the detrimental impacts of the grouse shooting industry.

Another media appearance involved Campaign Manager for REVIVE, Max Wiszniewski speaking on Farming today Podcast (November 25th) who spoke about grouse shootings impact on our wildlife, environment and it’s insignificant economic contribution to the Scottish economy.

Wildlife Management (Grouse) Bill

On the 6th September, the Scottish government introduced a Wildlife Management (Grouse) Bill as part of their programme for government. In response to their public consultation - which has just ended - we published a guide for our supporters to use when filling out the consultation. This was an exciting and important new opportunity to push for better protections for our wildlife. 

A Wildlife Christmas for MSP’s

To round off the end of the year, on the 14th December the League sent 129 animal toys (fox, badger and hedgehog) to the Scottish Parliament with a label attached reminding MSP’s that “Around 200,000 animals are killed each year so more grouse can be shot for sport”. To make an impact we wanted to reiterate the shocking cost grouse shooting has on our wildlife by using our extra special messengers.

Reflecting on the year we are hopefully closer to consigning fox hunting to the history books and we are excited to see the next steps brought forward by the government on grouse moor reform.

A huge thank you to all our supporters as this progress would not be possible without your support!

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(A few Wildlife representatives bringing a message to our Parliament)

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