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OneKind welcomes step towards a real hunting ban in Scotland

Released to press on 31 January 2017

OneKind has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment today to strengthen the Protection of Wild Mammals Act.

The Act was introduced in 2002 to ban hunting with dogs but has been marred by loopholes that mean that fox hunting continues in Scotland to this day.

Harry Huyton, Director of OneKind, said:

“Fox hunting was meant to have been banned in one of the first Acts of the new Scottish Parliament back in 2002. Fifteen years later, however, and the ten fox hunts based in Scotland are still hunting thanks to loopholes in the law. Today’s commitment by the Scottish Government to strengthen the Act takes us one step closer to ending this cruel practice once and for all.”

“OneKind welcomed Lord Bonomy’s report and we hope to see all of his recommendations implemented as soon as possible. Ministers must also consider what further action is needed to end fox hunting in Scotland for good, starting with closing the loophole in the law that allows fox hunting to continue under the guise of pest control.”

A public consultation seeking views on the implementation of Lord Bonomy’s recommendations will now follow. Lord Bonomy published his report in November 2016. He suggested that the main loophole that allows hunting to continue, ‘flushing’ foxes with packs of hounds towards guns, could be interpreted as a ‘decoy’ to allow traditional hunts to take place.

In addition to recommending changes to the law, Lord Bonomy suggested that a voluntary Code of Practice and independent monitoring of hunts be developed. Today, the Scottish Government have invited key stakeholders to work together to implement these proposals.

Harry continued:

“Our priority is a real hunting ban in Scotland, but in the meantime voluntary measures and independent monitoring of hunts could be useful interim measures. We look forward to contributing to this process to ensure that these measures protect foxes as much as possible.”

“Closing the loopholes and banning fox hunting in Scotland for real should be an urgent imperative for the Scottish Government. Not only is fox hunting cruel, but the fact that it continues 15 years after it was supposedly banned undermines Scotland’s reputation as a leader in animal welfare.”

Editors’ notes:
1.    OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals through campaigns, research and education.
2.    The Scottish Government’s announcement, Strengthening the protection of wild animals is available here.
3.    The Bonomy report can be read here and a blog summarising his recommendations and our response is here.
4.    Lord Bonomy’s report was commissioned at the end of 2015. This followed an announcement by the SNP in the summer of 2015 that it would vote against any moves to bring the Westminster Hunting Act in line with the weaker Scottish law. At the time, Angus Robertson MP, the SNP leader in Westminster and now deputy party leader said: “We totally oppose foxhunting and, when there are moves in the Scottish Parliament to review whether the existing Scottish ban is strong enough, it is in the Scottish interest to maintain the existing ban in England and Wales”.

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Saving Scotland's Foxes with Hessilhead