Today the Scottish Government has finally published its Hunting with Dogs Bill (Scotland), designed to close the many loopholes of the deeply flawed 2002 Act.
The new Bill will prevent more than two hounds being used, clarifies the definition of ‘hunting’, and makes applying for licenses almost impossible. Taken together, these measures will, if passed, effectively bring traditional fox hunting to an end in Scotland.
Scottish fox hunts have never used the ‘smokescreen’ of trail hunting to evade the law. Instead, they have exploited the weakness of the 2002 Act by pretending to flush foxes to guns. In fact, gunmen are often not present or are simply used as ‘props’ to give the impression of legal activity – much like the absurd ‘trail layers’ seen at English and Welsh hunts. It is highly significant, therefore, that the Bill includes specific measures designed to prevent the sham of trail hunting taking root in Scotland.
A HSA spokesperson commented:
“While this is a draft Bill, we believe it does address the many shortcomings of the previous Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. Hunting with packs of hounds will be all but impossible once it is passed. Of course, hunt sabs are well used to cynical hunters trying to circumvent the law, and we will be monitoring developments very closely.
But an equally significant aspect of the Bill is the way it pre-emptively bans any attempt to introduce so-called ‘trail hunting’ into Scotland. In other words, a UK government recognises that trail hunting is not a legitimate activity, but a smokescreen designed to conceal criminal activity…just let that sink in. The impact of the leaked Hunting Office webinars – in which Britain’s leading huntsman gave tutorials on how to hunt illegally – goes on and on.”