MSPs are set to debate and vote on Stage One of the Scottish Government’s Hunting with Dogs Bill, which aims to tighten legislation and put an end to illegal hunting.
Speaking ahead of the debate on 25 October, Environment and Land Reform Minister Mairi McAllan said:
“The chasing and killing of a wild mammal with a dog for sport, or otherwise, has no place in modern Scotland.
“The Hunting with Dogs Bill will finish the work started 20 years ago by delivering a comprehensive ban on the use of dogs to chase and kill foxes, hares and other wild mammals.
“By introducing this Bill, I want to both close loopholes in the existing legislation which have allowed this already illegal activity to persist in our society, and take steps to prevent other potential loopholes from opening.
“However, I recognise that foxes and other wild mammals can be a significant concern for farmers, and can pose a serious risk to livestock.
“The Bill has been designed to balance the needs of farmers, land managers and conservation groups – who must be allowed to effectively manage wildlife where necessary – with the need to stop illegal hunting and prevent unnecessary suffering.
“The intention of the licensing scheme is to provide for exceptional situations where, for example, the local terrain or conditions mean that a limit of two dogs would not allow farmers to protect their livestock.
“We do not intend to allow this licensing regime to become a loophole, that is why we have set out robust controls on its use within the Bill, including restricting the maximum number of days for which a licence can be issued.
“I welcome the RAINE Committee’s recent report and am pleased that they agree with the general principles of the Bill.
“And I welcome Lord Bonomy’s comments during the Committee evidence sessions, where he said that he considers this Bill to be “a very well-crafted piece of legislation” which “solves the problems of the loose and variable use of language” and “should be a great incentive for better enforcement of the law”.
“I look forward to the debate and hearing members’ contributions.
“I will listen closely to what is discussed and give careful consideration to any suggestions.”