Bid to put an end to the brutal slaughter of foxes for fun once and for all
Legal loopholes that have enabled hunters to continue killing foxes are to be closed at last say campaigners
Loopholes allowing fox hunters to flout the law and slaughter animals could be closed.
The Scottish Government has said it will look at strengthening legislation which was intended to bring an end to fox hunting in Scotland.
However, get-out clauses in the Wild Mammals Act 2002 mean that rather than bring the practice to an end, at least ten hunts are still in operation.
A review by Lord Bonomy has concluded that the legislation needs revised and strengthened.
He suggested that the main loophole that allows hunting to continue, flushing foxes with packs of hounds towards guns, could be interpreted as a cover to allow traditional hunts to take place.
His report also suggested that a code of conduct be developed and a system of independent hunt monitoring be implemented.
Now the Scottish Government has opened a consultation on his proposals, a move which has been welcomed by animal rights groups.
Harry Huyton, director of OneKind, said: “The 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.”
“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.”
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “This is a good first step in making the law which prevents wild mammals being hunted, chased and killed for sport clearer and more suited to its intended purpose. We agree with Lord Bonomy that hunts are using exemptions within the current legislation as a decoy for continuing with traditional hunting practices and that their activities are incidental to pest control.
“We all thought the act would put a stop to hunting but sadly this wasn’t the case and we now look to the Government to keep the momentum going, following Lord Bonomy’s review, to progress towards a situation where hunting in Scotland is really banned.”
Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am determined to ensure the highest possible levels of animal welfare and Lord Bonomy’s recommendations will help us build on the advances already achieved.
“This package of measures will substantially improve the language used in the existing legislation, address inconsistencies in the law, and strengthen the scrutiny and accountability of hunts."