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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charities welcome commencement of new hunting legislation

This news post is 9 months old

Groups warned hunts will be under more scrutiny than ever before.

Leading animal welfare charities have welcomed the commencement of the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act but said hunts will be scrutinised like never before. 

The Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023 came into force October 3, 2023. 

The legislation was voted through the Scottish Parliament in January this year and has come into force just ahead of what was traditionally the full hunting season, which gets underway at the start of November.  

The new act brings into force a number of measures which significantly curtail mounted hunting activity, including reducing the number of dogs which can be used to search for, stalk or flush a wild mammal to just two, instead of a full pack, and reducing the number of dogs which can be used below ground to just one, as well as a preemptive ban on trail hunting.

The League Against Cruel Sports and OneKind say hunts will be monitored more closely than ever to ensure compliance with the law. 

Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Robbie Marsland, said: “Scotland now has the most robust law on hunting with dogs in the UK but this does not mean our job is done, far from it. We will be scrutinising the activity of hunts more closely than ever before to see who is complying with the law and who is looking for new loopholes to exploit. 

“Throughout the passing of the new legislation there has been a determined and persistent campaign from those desperate to keep the cruelty of hunting alive in our countryside, even now pro-hunters are trying to delay commencement of the law. But we are sending a stark warning to hunters that we will be monitoring every hunt in Scotland for as long as it takes until we are satisfied the law is being adhered to.” 

Since the law was passed in January at least one hunt - the Fife Hunt - has officially closed and is now registered as a drag hunt, and it is believed the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Hunt has also ceased hunting. 

Bob Elliot, director of OneKind added: “Today is a monumental day in Scotland. 

“We are thankful to the Scottish Government for listening to the people of Scotland, who have been calling for a real fox hunting ban for more than 20 years, when it became clear that loopholes in the previous law had allowed fox hunting as ‘sport’ to continue. 

“Ministers have been clear that chasing and killing wild mammals with packs of dogs has no place in modern Scotland. So, we are sure that they, like us, will be watching closely to ensure that it never occurs again.  

“We believe that a complete shift in mindset in how we consider wild animals - as sentient beings rather than ‘pests’ or ‘targets’ - is desperately needed and that this should be reflected in the legislation. Today proves that we’re heading in the right direction.”