League warns the clock is ticking until it’s too late for action on fox hunting

New footage was released on Thursday by a leading animal welfare charity showing a pack of hounds on the scent of an exhausted fox. The League reported the incident to Police Scotland as the charity believes that the Jed Forest Hunt was encouraging its hounds to search for, and chase foxes, which would be illegal. The footage is released 12 months after the Scottish Government announced its intentions to bring forward a Bill to strengthen the current fox hunting legislation which it believes to be too weak.


The announcement last year on 9th January 2019, by the Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon MSP, was the conclusion to the Government’s Bonomy Review and outlined plans to implement the vast majority of Lord Bonomy’s six recommendations, as well as pledging to go further by reducing the number of hounds from a full pack to just two. However, a year on the process to bring forward the Bill is yet to start.

Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said:

“Last year we were in a position where we had a Scottish Government making a clear commitment to really ban fox hunting in Scotland yet here we are twelve months on and still no action.

“The footage the League has released clearly demonstrates loopholes in the law which desperately need closed. The Scottish Government literally has a matter of weeks to start the process otherwise the window of opportunity will close as attention turns to the Scottish Elections in 2021”.

New figures recently published by the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland show an overwhelming 87% of people in Scotland, and 92% of those who express an opinion, think fox hunting should be illegal. Furthermore, over three quarters (77%), rising to 82% of those who express an opinion, support action to strengthen the law and really ban fox hunting. Only 8% think it should be made legal again.

Robbie Marsland added: “Public opinion is firmly in favour of a proper ban on fox hunting with a huge majority thinking the current law is inadequate. We are urging the Scottish Government to act now to really ban hunting rather than waste an opportunity which has taken years of consultation and evidence gathering to reach this point. The longer officials spend procrastinating on this issue the more freedom hunts will have to do exactly what they want out in the field as our footage clearly shows.”

Hunting foxes with dogs was banned in Scotland in 2002, two years before the rest of the UK. In over seventeen years there has only been one successful prosecution of mounted huntsmen for illegal hunting. The League has been campaigning for the law to be strengthened to close loopholes which it believes allow hunts to hunt in a manner which is very similar to pre-ban, traditional hunting.

Ends

Notes to editor

  1. The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading 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. 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 sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).
  2. Footage can be downloaded here
  3. This survey was commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and designed and undertaken by Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research Ltd. Data was collected online among a sample of the ScotPulse online panel throughout Scotland, representative of the Scottish population, fieldwork dates were 3rd December to 6th December 2019, a total of 1066 responses were received, results are weighted to the Scottish population by gender and age.
  4. Media enquiries to Louise Robertson on 07930 539832 / [email protected]