On the trail of the hunts

Over the past few years, our team in Scotland, including staff and supporters, have been gathering and showing footage of mounted hunts using dogs to chase down foxes, and talking to anyone and everyone who would listen to persuade them that the current legislation is inadequate and that we need a proper ban.

We’ve briefed MSPs, Scottish Government officials, shown journalists what’s going on in the Scottish countryside, and gathered 20,000 signatures on a petition in support of a ban.

All that hard work is beginning to pay off, in several different ways.

Firstly, the Green MSP, Alison Johnstone, has pledged to introduce a Members’ Bill to ban hunting in Scotland. Her announcement came at a League reception in the Scottish Parliament on 28th November.

This is a massive step forward for our campaign, as it means that the Scottish Parliament will, at the very least, have to consider whether or not the current legislation is adequate. A Members’ Bill put forward by a prominent opponent of hunting would almost certainly lead to better laws than we have at the moment.

But it’s not been the only development. The SNP minority Scottish Government is currently running a consultation on whether or not it should legislate to strengthen hunting legislation.

It can only help us that SNP delegates at a recent policymaking meeting voted in favour of making it illegal for mounted hunts to use dogs, and capping the number of dogs used by all other hunts to two.

While their decision is not binding on Ministers, it will reinforce that the vast majority of Scots are opposed to foxhunting and want to see the practice completely banned.

The only notable person in recent days to have spoken up against tightening the law is the Duke of Buccleuch, one of Scotland’s largest landowners – and his argument, that a total ban should not be introduced as “hunting knits communities together” only reinforces the idea that the current legislation is inadequate.

All of this is tremendously encouraging. However, we’ll be campaigning hard in 2018 to make sure that the objectives of the campaign are realised, and that foxhunting is banned once and for all in Scotland.

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