- By Norman Fine
Foxhunting was banned in Scotland in 2002 by enactment of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act. Since that date, there have been no successful foxhunting prosecutions there.
According to Police Scotland, while “exceptions to the offence to ‘deliberately hunt a wild animal with a dog’ are multiple and provide opportunities for exploitation by those who continually and deliberately offend,” there exists a “lack of clarity,” and “the police are, on occasion, unable to establish the high threshold of evidence required to prove and ultimately, report cases.”
Police Scotland say that terms such as "stalking", "searching", and "flushing" were not defined by the act, an omission that creates confusion that can "deflect from the original intention or spirit of the legislation.... To make this legislation more effective and workable, offences need to be simplified and terms expanded.”
A review of the act by Lord Bonomy was ordered by Scottish ministers last year, and findings are expected in the coming weeks.
The legislation allows hunts to use dogs to flush out foxes and chase them towards the hunts, where the foxes are shot, but there have been allegations that the law has been broken because guns have not been visibly present. Police also said that proving the "intent" of an accused individual was very difficult because of the wording of the law.
The League Against Cruel Sports agrees with Police Scotland that the legislation is unworkable. According to the Scottish Director of LACS, "Our two-year investigation into the activities of Scottish fox hunts convinced us that they were driving a coach and horses through the present legislation.... The Scottish Parliament thought it had banned fox hunting in 2002. Now is the time for the law to be strengthened and for fox hunting in Scotland to be really banned, for good."
The Scottish Countryside Alliance, which promotes hunting, is yet to respond.
For further detail, see the complete BBC article.
Posted November 12, 2016