Scottish fox hunts trying to get around new law, report shows

Scottish hunts are attempting to ride roughshod over new anti-hunting laws, according to a new report released by national animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports.  

It comes as the first season draws to a close since the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023 was introduced.  

Files have been passed to Police Scotland to investigate six incidents from the season, and at least one person has been charged with activities related to illegal hunting.  

Robbie Marsland, director of League Scotland, said: “Scottish fox hunts appear to be trying to ride a coach and horses through the new law.   

“Whether they’re sneaking around with multiple dogs or saying they are drag hunting, it’s good news that Police Scotland are responding to the League’s evidence and that at least one person has been charged with illegal hunting.   

“This will be a clarion call to anyone who thinks they can get round this new law.” 

The League’s investigators, who have decades of experience in monitoring and recording hunting, carried out field observations over six months, looking at patterns of behaviour of several hunts. 

The Berwickshire, Jed Forest, Lauderdale, Duke of Buccleuch, and Dumfries and Stewartry mounted hunts were visited.  

The charity, which this year will mark its centenary, lobbied Holyrood for tighter hunting laws in order to properly protect animals such as fox and hare that are chased and killed by packs of hounds. 

It says one of the excuses three of the hunts are using – that they are following an artificial, non-animal-based scent – could be a smokescreen for illegal hunting. None are members of, or abide by the rules of, the Master of Blood Hounds and Drag Hunts Association. 

Drag hunting has been an established pursuit for decades, typically takes place away from the natural habitats of hunted animals, and uses bloodhounds rather than fox hounds.  

The League has evidence that at least one hunt is using fox hounds trained to follow animal scent rather than artificial scent, and is operating in areas where wild animals would be located.  

Robbie said: “The next thing that needs to happen is that the Scottish Government should use its executive power to clamp down on bogus drag hunting and the League is seeking a meeting with the Minister to discuss just that.” 

The full report is available at: 


Notes to editors 

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading animal 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 2004, Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 and the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023. 

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 wildlife reserves to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533). 

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