SCOTLAND’S only female master huntsman has been accused of breaching the country’s fox hunting legislation.
Claire Bellamy has been charged after concerns were raised about practices at a Lauderdale Hunt in the Borders on October 24.
The 42-year-old only took over as master at the Lauderdale Hunt last year after moving to Scotland with her partner Adrian Ross from her native Dartmoor in Devon.
Investigators of the League Against Cruel Sports secretly filmed the activities of the Lauderdale Hunt – one of 11 in Scotland – on land near Galashiels before passing on the footage to Police Scotland.
Now Police Scotland have confirmed a 42-year-old woman will be the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal at Selkirk.
PC Andy Loughlin, wildlife crime officer for the Lothians and Scottish Borders, said:"We take all reports of wildlife offences very seriously and criminality against our natural environment in Scotland will not be tolerated.
"I would encourage any members of the public withg any concerns to contact police on 101, each area has a dedicated Wildlife Crime Officer who will be able to help."
The law in Scotland was changed 16 years ago to ban the hunting of wild mammals with dogs.
But Hunts still operate and say they act legally providing a pest control service and staying within the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.
The Scottish Government is examining the law following a review of the 2002 Act in a report last year by Lord Bonomy.
The Act states that dogs are still allowed to pursue foxes – as long as a marksman shoots the animal as soon as it emerges to open ground.
Father and son John Clive Richardson, 67, and 24-year-old Johnny Riley became the first members of a mounted hunt to be successfully prosecuted since the Act was introduced north of the Border.
The Jedforest Hunt members in the Borders were filmed by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports.
Following eight days of evidence, Sheriff Peter Paterson ruled that in two incidents Richardson and Riley were in breach of the Act and found them guilty of deliberately hunting a fox with dogs.
Riley – who was in charge of the hunt – was fined £400 at Selkirk Sheriff Court and Richardson, described as having a lesser role, fined £250.
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