By Niamh Harnett
ROBBIE MARSLAND DIRECTOR OF THE LEAGUE AGAINST CRUEL SPORTS SCOTLAND HAS WELCOMED A REVIEW by Lord Bonomy to stop laws on fox hunting from being breached. The review suggests appointing independent monitors to ensure strict compliance with the current laws.
Fox hunting with dogs was banned in Scotland in 2002 with the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) act stating that a person who deliberately hunts a wild mammal with a dog is committing an offence, however the police have branded the legislation “unworkable” as there have not been any successful unlawful hunting prosecutions since 2002.
Lord Bonomy’s review was published shortly after OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports claimed a dead fox found on a west of Scotland estate was killed by dogs. Vets who examined the carcass said its injuries were consistent with a dog attack, although it had also been shot. In response Pro-hunting group the Countryside Alliance said the fox had been legally shot after being flushed out by dogs.
The review was ordered last year by the Scottish government to examine whether existing law gave adequate protection to wild animals, while at the same time allowing effective control of these animals.
In his report, Lord Bonomy concluded that there were “aspects and features of the legislation which complicate unduly the detection, investigation and prosecution of alleged offences.”
Lord Bonomy suggested that hunt monitors, who would observe hunts on a random basis, could be introduced either through legislation or voluntary scheme.
The proposed monitors would submit a report of their observations to Scottish Ministers, with an annual summary included in the Wildlife Crime in Scotland Annual Report. The monitor’s observations could also be admissible evidence in court.
Responding to the report’s publication, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said Scotland had “led the way” in addressing animal welfare concerns, and the government remained committed to ensuring the “highest levels of welfare” for the country’s wild animals.
Scottish Greens MSP Mark Russell is in full support of Lord Bonomy’s review.
“Current legislation is not fit for purpose, there are far too many loopholes that wild animal hunters can exploit, it is clear we need changes, stronger more airtight restrictions as well as landowners being held accountable are only the start to preventing further animal cruelty.”
The League Against Cruel Sports has called on the Scottish government to strengthen the law before the current foxhunting season closes at the end of March 2017.
Photo Credit: Beau Considine