24th June 2019
Foxes and hares are iconic animals, both playing a major role in Scotland’s mythology and valued by its people. Yet both are routinely killed in large numbers across Scotland.
You would be forgiven for thinking fox hunting was banned in Scotland. After all, MSPs voted to ban it in 2002.
Before the “ban” there were 10 hunts operating throughout Scotland. There are still 10 hunts. Hundreds of foxes are killed every year by mounted hunts, and many are killed by the dogs. Terriers are even sent underground to chase foxes out of their holes and to kill orphaned pups.
When the 2002 ban was passed it was remarked in the chamber that “when people wake up in Scotland tomorrow, the country will be a little bit more civilised”.
However, it is now widely recognised that the act failed to stop fox hunting. Seventeen years after it was passed, it’s time to rectify this failure.
My proposal would remove the loopholes and result in a watertight ban, ending hunting for good.
Politicians have repeatedly promised to end hunting, and the Parliament passed the Protection of Wild Mammals Act back in its very first session. For hunting to continue despite this leads to distrust in our institutions and those leading them.
My proposals would represent a new contract between land managers and the wider public that could help restore good faith.
Public awareness of and interest in wild mammal protection and conservation in Scotland has grown markedly over this period, and another important and urgent concern has emerged: the routine and widespread killing of hares.
On average of 26,000 are killed every year. These beautiful animals that are native to the Highlands are mostly killed for recreation, and under the mistaken belief that it will mean more grouse, which are highly valued by a small minority of bloodsport enthusiasts.
I hope my fox and hare bill can provide a real hunting ban and give better protection all hares, as well as opening up a wider discussion about how we can better protect Scotland’s wildlife.
That’s why it is important people engage with the consultation. I’ve already had the support of wildlife and conservation charities. It would be great to get your support too.
Alison Johnstone is the Scottish Green MSP for the Lothian region.