The SNP Government has introduced a bill to protect foxes, hares and other wild mammals from being chased and killed by packs of dogs.
The Hunting with Dogs Bill will replace existing legislation in this area, making the law clearer and closing loopholes.
Recognising that there is a need for predators such as foxes to be controlled in certain circumstances, the new Bill will allow dogs to be used to search for, stalk or flush a wild mammal, but only for specified purposes and if the activity meets the requirements in the Bill. These purposes include preventing serious damage to livestock, timber or crops, protecting human health or preventing the spread of disease.
The Bill proposes that certain conditions must also be met when using dogs for the permitted purposes. These include, for example, using no more than two dogs unless a licence has been granted, keeping any dog used under control, and obtaining permission from the land owner or the person who manages or controls the use of that land. The Bill will also include new provisions to ban the activity of ‘trail hunting’ which can pose a risk to wild mammals.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“Chasing and killing a mammal with a dog, for sport or otherwise, has been illegal in Scotland for twenty years.
“Sadly, that illegal activity has persisted, so the SNP Government is bringing forward legislation to crack down, whilst still facilitating legitimate pest control.
“The Bill will help authorities take pre-emptive action to prevent trail hunting in Scotland in order to reduce the risk of wild mammals being killed by dogs.
“Scottish Ministers consulted widely on their proposals receiving over 11,000 responses from a range of organisations and groups, as well as members of the public.
“The views of stakeholders and the public were carefully considered when developing the new legislation, which I am confident is both progressive and balanced.”
Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland Robbie Marsland said:
“The League fully supports the intention behind the new Bill and we look forward to seeing it in detail and working with the Scottish Government as it progresses through parliament with full scrutiny.”
The Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill was introduced on 24 February 2022.
The use of dogs to hunt wild mammals is governed by the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.