Charities welcome overwhelming public response to hunting consultation

The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland and OneKind are urging the Scottish Government to listen to public opinion when deciding on the future of fox hunting in Scotland, following an overwhelming response to a consultation on the issue.

The consultation, which closes on 31st January, invited views on reforms to the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act after recommendations were made by Lord Bonomy last year following his review of hunting practices north of the border.

Over 20,000 people have responded to the consultation via an online action set up by the two charities in favour of strengthening the law in Scotland. In addition, a further 11,000 from outside Scotland wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP voicing their support for improvements to the law.

Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said: "It comes as absolutely no surprise that so many people in Scotland felt compelled to respond to the Scottish Government's consultation in favour of improving the law to really ban hunting.

"Public support for a ban is consistently high with the most recent figures showing eight in ten adults think fox hunting should be illegal. The League has a catalogue of evidence supporting our view that the current law is not fit for purpose and we are urging the Scottish Government to take this, and public opinion, into consideration and let common sense prevail when it decides on the future of hunting in Scotland." 

Harry Huyton, Director of OneKind added: "Chasing, terrorising and killing wild mammals with packs of hounds has no place in a modern, civilised society and we're delighted the public has spoken so vociferously in its response to the Scottish Government's consultation.

"The only other issue we are aware of which has generated such public discontent was a consultation on the controversial practice of fracking, which resulted in responses from over 65,000 people. The public has without doubt spoken and we only hope the Scottish Government listens."

Scottish Green MSP, Alison Johnstone recently announced her intention to bring forward a Members Bill to deliver a total ban on fox hunting. She commented: "The Government must heed the strong response from the public to this consultation. The Bonomy recommendations do not go far enough, and so I still expect to bring forward a member's bill to deliver a proper ban unless Ministers decide to do the right thing and enforce a ban themselves."

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire added: "The huge response to this petition makes clear that the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the cruel and barbaric practice of fox hunting - which was meant to have been banned in 2002.

"The Scottish Government is to be commended for responding to concerns about illegal hunting by commissioning the Bonomy Review, which shows that mounted hunts are exploiting weaknesses in the current ban to continue hunting foxes with dogs. It's now time to respond both to the findings of the review and to the strength of public opinion on this issue and really ban fox hunting in Scotland."

Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: "This overwhelming response demonstrates the clear public support for a full hunting ban. It is now time for the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to listen to the public and deliver that full ban which goes beyond the Lord Bonomy recommendations . The current legislation aimed to end the abhorrent practise of hunting with dogs but it's clear that loopholes exist and some hunts have gone out of their way to ignore the law both in letter and spirit. We need to end those practises and put a stop to hunting once and for all".

A full analysis of the consultation is expected to be published by the Scottish Government later in the year.

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