Scottish Countryside Alliance

 
The latest
News brief
 

Follow the Countryside Alliance:

Hunting in Scotland a decade on from the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act

As the 10th anniversary of the Act passed on February 13, you could be forgiven for thinking little has changed during the course of time. 

 

It was meant to sound the death toll of the centuries-old pursuit of fox hunting, but a decade on from the introduction of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 (the Act) which was fiercely opposed by the Scottish Countryside Alliance, local hunts continue to survive - and even flourish.

Hunting with hounds has been a sport in Scotland dating back some 800 years, traditionally enjoyed by royalty, landowners and country-dwelling clergy.  Hounds were trained specifically to hunt foxes in the 1660s and the 'modern day' form of organised fox hunting was introduced in 1750s. Foxhunting continued to grow in popularity throughout the nineteenth century, particularly because of the inroads made by the railway which provided rural access to the masses.

On the 21st July 1999 - Labour MSP Mike Watson announced plans to put forward a private member's bill in the Scottish Parliament to ban hunting with dogs in Scotland. After more than six hours of debate, MSPs passed the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) bill by 83 to 36, with five abstentions. In the months immediately after the implementation of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, effectively banning fox hunting came into force, only one of the country's 10 licensed hunts had disbanded. The other nine electing to offer a pest-control service to landowners and farmers, hunting foxes that damage or threaten livestock or game.

As the 10th anniversary of the Act passed on February 13, you could be forgiven for thinking little has changed during the course of time. Scotland's hunts were out in force with a pack of hounds, offering a pest control service to local livestock and game managers, aiming to flush out a fox to waiting gunmen - as the law permits.

It is legal to use dogs to flush a fox from cover for it to then be shot so long as this is done as a form of pest control. Ironically, evidence suggests three times as many foxes are being killed due to the introduction of guns than before the new laws were brought in to protect animal welfare. 10 years ago strong foxes would frequently succeed in escaping from the hounds, while weaker foxes were caught and killed.

The Scottish hunting community are rightly proud of their achievements. Having come through an all-encompassing campaign fighting to save the sport and in many cases livelihoods, they emerged from the fight on February 13, 2002, blooded but unbeaten. Ten years later, we must recognise and commend the resilience of hunting folk – the fact that we still have a form of fox hunting in Scotland is testament to the determination of the people involved.

< Back