News In Focus
Foxhunting law to be tightened up
Legislation to tighten the use of dogs in hunting foxes and other wild animals will be introduced in the present Parliament, the Scottish Government has announced.
Delivering a statement to Parliament on improving animal welfare, Minister for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon told the Parliament that a bill will implement changes proposed by Lord Bonomy’s review of the working of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.
The changes will limit to two the number of dogs that can be used to flush or find a fox. The Government will also explore the option of a licensing scheme to permit the use of more than two dogs, if deemed necessary for pest control.
Additionally, the bill will include pre-emptive measures to address the likelihood of "trail-hunting" becoming established in Scotland. This involves people on foot or horseback following a scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, but animal welfare sceptics have alleged that trail hunts are being used as cover for hunting live foxes.
Ms Gougeon said: "We asked Lord Bonomy to undertake a review into how we can provide a sufficient level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals, whilst allowing for the effective and humane control of them when absolutely necessary, and published a consultation which attracted nearly 19,000 responses.
"After careful consideration of those responses, I’m pleased to say that we will be taking forward many of the recommendations in Lord Bonomy’s report to clarify and strengthen the Protection of Wild Mammals Act.
"However, not only do we hope to implement the vast majority of those recommendations, we will be going further. We’re going to strengthen our current legislation and plan to introduce measures that go beyond the rest of the UK in terms of protecting the welfare of our wild mammals."
- In another animal welfare measure, legislation is to be brought forward this year requiring abattoirs to record on CCTV all areas where live animals are present. This is intended to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare in abattoirs, by helping those responsible for enforcing welfare legislation.