Hunting, shooting and consulting - our year in Scotland

2018 has been quite consultative in Scotland. We seem to like a bit of a think, up here.

The year began with a public consultation on the recommendations made by Lord Bonomy in his review of the effectiveness of the Protection of Wild Animals (Scotland) Act. The League was directly responsible for this review and we submitted over a hundred hours of footage illustrating why the Scottish fox hunting ban should be strengthened.

Although Lord Bonomy accepted that hunts were using the flushing to guns exception as a decoy for traditional hunting he declined to really ban hunting by recommending that that exception be removed. He did, however, recommend a number of important changes that we welcomed.

So did the Scottish Government act? Not at all. Hence putting Lord Bonomy’s recommendations out for public consultation.

So we said all the things we’d said before and we showed them all the footage (and some new bits) again. The consultation closed at the end of January and we’re still waiting to hear what the Government actually propose to do.

In the meantime, the Scottish Green party were getting as fed up as the League. Alison Johnstone MSP had announced at the end of 2017 that she will introduce a Member’s Bill if the Government continued to drag their feet and momentum has been growing towards this being the quickest and most feasible option.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Buccleuch fox hunt found themselves in court towards the end of the year - a timely reminder that foxes are continuing to be chased by hounds across the Scottish countryside.

Timely too, was the Sheriff’s decision to dismiss charges because of the well known difficulties around the law. As we have been saying to anyone who will listen (and some who won’t) the Scottish ban just doesn’t work and must be strengthened.

At the beginning of November, Revive - the coalition for Grouse moor reform - was launched in Edinburgh by Chris Packham. The League Scotland was a driver and founder of this coalition and has provided funds for a campaign manager and campaigning resources.  Working with Friends of the Earth Scotland, Onekind, Common Weal and Raptor Persecution UK we have helped assemble a rare consortium of welfare, social justice and conservation groups to come together and question why up to 20% of Scotland is a grouse moor.

Revive's launch report created the media and political dialogue about grouse shooting we were hoping for. And in recent days Back to Life, the coalition’s second report, has got even more people thinking about what a terrible contribution grouse moors are making to the Scottish economy.

And what are the Scottish Government doing about grouse moors? They’ve set up the Werrity Review which is consulting with stakeholders.

So, as we face 2019, we have cause to be carefully optimistic that real steps will be made to really ban fox hunting and that we are successfully creating a movement of organisations and individuals ready to question why almost 20% of Scotland is used to shoot grouse for entertainment. 

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