The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland calls for investigation into at least half of the country’s fox hunts
At least half of Scotland’s fox hunts are breaking the law, campaigners have claimed.
The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland says it has video evidence that hunts are routinely ignoring the Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act which came into force in 2002.
An exemption to the Act allows the use of dogs to flush foxes from cover in order for them to be shot – however, during a 16-day surveillance operation of five of Scotland's 10 registered hunt,s campaigners say they saw no evidence of shotguns.
What they saw on a number of occasions was packs of dogs being sent into cover without marksman waiting to shoot foxes and on three occasions foxes being chased over open fields.
Robbie Marsland, director of League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “Our footage suggests that at least half the hunts in Scotland are flouting the law with impunity and are operating as if the ban doesn’t apply to them.
“While the hunts we observed claimed to be flushing to guns, our investigators did not see a single shotgun either used or even brandished.”
Following the League’s revelation, animal protection charity OneKind called for an investigation into the claims.
OneKind’s policy director Libby Anderson said: “The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 was a landmark victory in Scottish animal protection legislation.
“If there is evidence to show the law is being ignored then OneKind wholeheartedly supports a full investigation into this.”
Meanwhile, both organisations are calling for SNP MPs to be allowed by their party to take part in any future vote on the Hunting Act (2004) in England and Wales, despite it not applying to Scotland.
It was expected an announcement would be made in the Queen’s speech yesterday (Wednesday) about a free vote to repeal the act. However, none was forthcoming.
Campaigners do still expect a vote to be proposed at a later date.
Marsland continued: “The League understands that the decision to repeal the Hunting Act will be made by the Conservatives, and we understand that, if it is carried, it will be on the back of Conservative votes.
“However, if the SNP agrees to give their MPs a free vote, along with Labour, Conservative rebels and the votes of other parties, we have a chance to keep cruelty history. We urge the SNP to grasp this opportunity.”
One Kind’s Anderson added: “Repealing the Hunting Act would not only have a devastating impact on animal welfare but would take up valuable parliamentary time on an issue which has no support from the vast majority of the public.
“In both Scotland and England it is clear the law needs to be strengthened, not repealed.”