The Scottish government has indicated that a Fox Control Bill to ‘strengthen’ current legislation is on its way and that it will be launching a consultation within weeks.
Since 2002, Scottish hunts have been restricted to using packs of hounds to flush foxes to be shot and for well over a decade there was little, if any, discussion of fox control.
But, according to Tim Bonner from the Countryside Alliance: “Only when a political campaign was launched in Holyrood did hunting re-emerge as a political issue in Scotland again.
“A Scottish government consultation, carried out by Lord Bonomy, unequivocally rejected the case for further restrictions on the number of hounds that can be used in fox control and peer-reviewed research carried out in Scotland has shown that using packs of hounds is both more effective and humane than using two as the law requires in England and Wales.
“Yet, in 2019, the Scottish government said it would “go further” than Lord Bonomy’s recommendations, which seemed to be a euphemism for contradicting him and bring in a two-dog restriction.
“Ministers are, however, aware that there is no logical justification for the further restrictions to the practice of using packs of hounds, especially in light of Lord Bonomy’s findings, and that they could be vulnerable to legal challenge if they compromise the rights of farmers and other land managers to protect their livestock and their livelihoods.
“For that reason they have proposed that there will be a licensing system for the use of packs in fox control. Banning things and then creating a license to allow them to be carried out does seem a wasteful and overly bureaucratic approach, especially when there is no problem to address in the first place.“The Scottish Countryside Alliance will, however, work with ministers and officials to ensure that any such system is equitable and workable.”
There will be more news once the consultation is announced.