Scotland's ban on fox hunting has failed, says MSP

Alison Johnstone plans to bring forward new legislation to outlaw the cruel practice.

Fox: Illegal hunts are suspected (file pic). Jonn Leffmann

A Scottish Green MSP has announced plans to bring forward new legislation to ban fox hunting, claiming previous legal restrictions have "failed".

Alison Johnstone said she intends to lodge a member's bill to outlaw the practice, speaking at an event at Holyrood for the League Against Cruel Sports.

Fox hunting with dogs was banned in Scotland through the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act in 2002, with an exemption for using dogs to flush out foxes for pest control or protecting livestock or ground-nesting birds.

Mounted hunts in Scotland have since offered farmers, landowners and estate managers a pest control service but a review by Lord Bonomy published last year found there were "grounds to suspect" fox hunting takes place illegally and he recommended having independent monitors to police hunts.

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Ms Johnstone, deputy convener of Holyrood's cross-party group on animal welfare, said: "In 2002 the Wild Mammals Act aimed to ban foxhunting but has clearly failed. The practice of 'flushing' foxes with packs of dogs to waiting guns is in many cases hunting with dogs under another name.

"Polling shows most Scots are in favour of a full ban, and I will bring forward a member's bill to deliver one.

"SNP members, like most of the public, have been horrified by recent decisions on puppy tail docking and shock collars. We cannot allow ministers to kick the can down the road on foxhunting. It's time to take a stand."

Lord Bonomy has previously told a Holyrood committee that an outright ban on fox hunting would not solve the problem of ensuring hunts adhere to the law.

In June, MSPs voted by majority to end an outright ban on tail docking for dogs in Scotland by creating exemptions for two breeds.

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The changes allow vets to shorten the tails of spaniels and hunt point retrievers by up to a third when they are puppies up to five days old and mirror the law elsewhere in the UK.

Within the last month the Scottish Government has come under increasing pressure to ban the use of shock collars on dogs but ministers say new regulations being brought in will introduce tighter controls on the use of the devices than there are in England.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We remain committed to ensuring the highest welfare standards for all animals, including those in the wild, and encourage everyone to notify Police Scotland if anyone is suspected of breaking the law."

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