Much has been made in the press of the Police Scotland response to the Scottish Government appointed review of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.
Police Scotland has confirmed that on occasion it has been unable to establish the high threshold of evidence required to prove and, ultimately, report cases to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. However what has not been reported is their further comment that the law is fit for purpose and significant improvements could be made to it without the need for considerable change to the legislation.
The hunting of foxes with hounds was banned in Scotland under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, which was passed in 2002. The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 sets out the parameters of how dogs may be used in the control of wild mammals.
The Scottish Government appointed senior Judge Lord Bonomy to review the current act to ensure current legislation is providing the necessary level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals, while at the same time allowing effective and humane control of these animals where needed. The results of his review will be made public within the next few weeks.
The process was thorough and we are certain that his recommendations will reflect the demonstrable need for wild mammal control and the continued use of hounds to flush from cover.
We are delighted to read within the Police Scotland submission its recognition of the high level of engagement they have with those operating foxhounds and their desire to further enhance the current code of practice under which they operate.
Official statistics show that there have been 210 charges brought under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) between 2002 and 2014, involving some 87 convictions.
But in more than 10 years of monitoring there has been no evidence produced to support a successful prosecution of a hunt using a pack of hounds. Far from suggesting the law is not working, it would suggest that foxhound packs comply with the law.