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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Greens Bid to Remove Royal Loophole in Hunting With Dogs Legislation

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Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess has pushed for greater protections for wild mammals at risk of being terrorised and even killed by packs of dogs

The Green MSP for the Highlands & Islands has lodged amendments to the Hunting with Dogs Bill to prevent mounted hunts and foot packs from hunting foxes for sport – including on Government land.

The Ferret revealed in December that fox hunts had been taking place on public land just south of Inverness in Ms Burgess’s region.

Forestry Land Scotland had issued licences for the hunts, despite strong objections from their own expert staff. 

The Scottish Greens are calling for the complete removal of Section 25 of the Bill, which gives special treatment to land belonging to the King or to a Government department.

In what amounts to a loophole for royalty, police would have to obtain special permission from the Crown Estate Commissioners or another ‘appropriate authority’ if they wanted to investigate whether the law is being upheld on Crown land.     

Ariane Burgess, Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said:

“It’s shocking that fox hunts continue to take place on public land – but it’s even more shocking that this Bill would maintain additional barriers to police investigations.

“Section 25 would enshrine a two-tier system in which law enforcement officers must obtain special permission to enter Crown land, but not any other land, to investigate any potential offences relating to hunting with dogs.

“When it comes to protecting animal welfare, there should be no loopholes – even for the Crown.

“I remember in 2002 when King Charles, then heir to the throne, said that he would “leave Britain” if fox hunting were banned.

“In contrast, 87% of people in Scotland believe fox hunting should be banned.

“That’s why I’ve lodged amendments to close the loopholes and strengthen protection for foxes and other wild animals.

“It’s particularly important to remove the exemption for ‘terrier work’: the cruel practice of sending dogs underground to flush out foxes, which can lead to orphaned cubs being mauled to death by dogs. 

“I urge my MSP colleagues across Scotland’s political parties to stand up for animal welfare and stand against Royal loopholes, by supporting my amendments.

“Members of the public can show their support by signing the ‘End Fox Hunting’ petition on the Scottish Greens’ website.”

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