Alison Johnstone says hunts continue to flout existing laws and allow dogs to savagely pursue foxes in the Scottish countryside
An MSP witnessed a fox being chased by hunt hounds across a field in the Scottish Borders.
Green MSP Alison Johnstone is working with the League Against Cruel Sports to highlight that Scottish hunts continue to use of dogs to pursue and kill wild foxes, despite the practice being apparently illegal.
The League has reported the incident to the police as a potential breach of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act and believes the incident also violates a new voluntary code of donduct which hunts agreed to abide by earlier this year.
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “This week I saw a fox running for its life, pursued by a pack of dogs. The mounted hunt followed after them, and I was left in no doubt that the current law is failing to protect our wildlife. Hunting with dogs was meant to have been banned in Scotland in 2002, but this clearly has not worked.”
As a part of its ongoing investigation into patterns of behaviour by Scottish mounted hunts the League Against Cruel Sports invited Alison Johnstone MSP to accompany its fieldworkers to observe the Lauderdale hunt on 20 November 2018.
On this occasion the League believes what was caught on film is a breach of the legislation which prevents hunts using hounds to chase and kill foxes, also contravening the voluntary code of conduct.
The League has footage showing hounds in pursuit of a fox in an open field with no guns in sight.
Scottish hunts signed up to a voluntary code of conduct on 1 October this year. It was drafted by a stakeholders in response to Lord Bonomy’s review of fox hunting legislation, under the chairmanship of former Deputy Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson QPM.
It requires hunts to control packs of dogs during a hunt and ensure that flushed foxes are killed by gun rather than deliberately allowing dogs to “pursue foxes or non-target mammals beyond cover”.
The League believes the footage clearly shows this not to be the case.
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said: “The League has always been sceptical about a voluntary code of conduct and believes this is not a substitute for the rigorous changes required to make the current law fit for practice.
“At the end of the day the success of the code will always come down to the will of a group of people who have, in the past, consistently driven a coach and horses through the currently weak legislation. Here we are just a few weeks into the hunting season witnessing the code being blatantly violated.
“We have supported the creation of the code as an interim step towards hunting being really banned in Scotland but this, and other incidents simply fuel our belief that the code isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Now more than ever we want to see the legislation significantly strengthened to close the loopholes which allow for pre-ban hunting to continue unfettered.”
Alison Johnstone MSP said the incident had resolved her to create a Scottish Parliament bill that would create a complete ban on hunting with dogs.