On Wednesday 14th September, Ruth Maguire, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, hosted a cross-party event in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports. The event provided an opportunity for MSPs across the political spectrum to gain insight into illegal fox-hunting in Scotland, shortly before an independent review of existing fox-hunting legislation is set to published.
The SNP group in Westminster made headlines last summer by standing up to the Tory government’s attempts to relax the ban on fox-hunting in England and Wales, where currently only two dogs may be used to flush out foxes for pest-control purposes. This contrasts with Scotland, where an unlimited number of dogs may be used for the same purpose.
Though the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 was intended to ban fox-hunting, there have been consistent concerns of widespread illegal hunting, with packs of dogs being used to hunt, and not just to flush. In December 2015, the Scottish Government, commissioned Lord Bonomy to undertake an independent review of the 2002 Act to ensure that it is providing the necessary level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals.
MSPs including Ruth Maguire (SNP), Maurice Golden (Con), John Finnie (Green), Ash Denham (SNP), Colin Smyth (Lab), and Emma Harper (SNP), heard speeches from the League’s CEO, Eduardo Gonçalves and Director for Scotland, Robbie Marland.
MSPs also had the opportunity to watch footage submitted to the review by the League, which showed hunts flouting the law, with foxes being chased down by dogs rather than shot by guns.
Commenting, Ruth said:
‘It’s safe to say that there are widespread concerns about fox-hunting, and the Scottish Government has been both responsive and responsible in commissioning an evidence based review on this important matter.
I am sure that all members will consider the evidence submitted and the report carefully, and work with the League towards strengthening the existing legislation to make sure that the cruel and barbaric practice of foxes being hunted by dogs has no place in Scotland.’
Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, stated that:
‘We were delighted when the Scottish Government agreed to commission an independent review into foxhunting as we have long been concerned about the effectiveness of the legislation.
We have been closely involved with the Lord Bonomy Review and were pleased to be able to show MSPs some of the footage we have gathered this summer.’