In an historic vote in the Scottish parliament, MSPs today voted to tighten up its legislation against hunting with hounds and close the loopholes that have allowed hunts to continue despite the 2002 ban.
The Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act now will repeal and replace the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act. Previously, the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act allowed for a pack of hounds to be used to flush a mammal from cover, with a gunman in place to shoot the animal once it has broken cover. The new Act will reduce the number of dogs to be allowed to be used for flushing out a fox (or other mammal) to two, spelling the end for traditional fox, hare and mink hunting throughout Scotland.
There are currently ten registered packs of foxhounds operating in Scotland and one mink hunt, so the Act delivers a huge to blow to the bloodsports community. As well as these 11 packs, many English beagle and minkhound packs often take trips across the border to hunt in Scotland and will also therefore be affected by the new legislation.
Saboteurs in Scotland have worked tirelessly against hunts in the country. The Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire Hunt have recently borne the brunt of action by saboteurs, with our Glasgow and Edinburgh groups hitting them week in, week out. Scottish Borders Hunt Saboteurs have also been doing great work against the Berwickshire Hunt and the Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt. The Fife Foxhounds have also suffered severe sabotage at the hands of our Perthshire and Grampian groups.
Sadly, the new Act does also introduce a licencing scheme which allows for more than two dogs to be used to a flush out a wild mammal. However, each licence may last up to a maximum of 14 days, rendering it almost useless to ‘traditional’ packs of hounds.
A spokesperson from the Hunt Saboteurs Association commented: “Today’s vote was a huge step forward in the fight against hunting with hounds. Scottish saboteur groups have for many years saved countless lives from the hunts and hopefully the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act will be the final nail in the coffin for fox hunting in Scotland and open the door for strengthening fox hunting laws across the rest of the UK.”