Tories challenged to back new foxhunting legislation


The Scottish Tories have been urged to back new legislation to close potential loopholes in foxhunting laws.

In a Holyrood statement on Wednesday, Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon announced the Scottish Government’s intention to bring forward a bill to implement changes proposed by the recent Bonomy Review – which would effectively spell an end to mounted hunts with packs of hounds by limiting the number of dogs used to flush or find foxes to two.

In response to the statement, Tory politicians dodged the issue of foxhunting altogether, with their MSP Maurice Golden stating only that they were “committed to protecting animals and clear that those who abuse and inflict cruelty on animals should be punished in accordance with the law”.

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton has faced press scrutiny over her foxhunting links, riding with the Lauderdale and Buccleuch hunts in the Borders, which have both been accused of animal rights abuses by the League Against Cruel Sports. The Lauderdale Hunt was reported to the police at the end of November 2018 for a potential violation of existing laws against pursuing and killing foxes with dogs.

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire, who has campaigned for strengthening foxhunting legislation, is calling on the Tories to “put animal welfare ahead of their enthusiasm for barbaric country sports”.

Commenting, Ms Maguire said:

“The SNP is serious about the welfare of animals. Hunting foxes is already against the law, but new legislation can help to close those loopholes and strengthen protections.

“The proposals set out this week still have to get the support of the Scottish Parliament – that’s why it’s so important that all parties serious about protecting wild animals match their deeds with their words on animal cruelty.

“MSPs from all parties should get squarely behind new legislation, and put animal welfare ahead of their enthusiasm for barbaric country sports.

“It’s no secret that the Scottish Tories have close connections to some of Scotland’s more controversial hunts, but in 2019 it’s hard to countenance a return to the days when hounds were let loose to tear defenceless animals to shreds in the name of fun.

“The Scottish Parliament has a huge opportunity ahead to make further strides in protecting the welfare of wild animals – and I hope that’s a cause that politicians from all sides can rally to.”

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