Changes to foxhunting laws recommended

Berwickshire Hunt
Berwickshire Hunt

A retired High Court judge wants the law banning traditional foxhunting in Scotland to be revised.

“There are aspects and features of the legislation which complicate unduly the detection, investigation and prosecution of alleged offences,” said Lord Bonomy, appointed last year by the Scottish Government to review the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.

His report, published on Monday, represents a rejection of pleas from three Borders hunts – the Buccleuch, Lauderdale and Berwickshire – for no change to a statute criticised by animal rights groups.

In his submission to Lord Bonomy, Joe Scott Plummer, chairman of the Buccleuch Foxhounds, claimed the legislation “achieved a balance between providing the necessary level of control of wild mammals while allowing for their effective control”.

Also calling for the retention of the status quo was Trevor Adams, the former Buccleuch Hunt master who was the first person in Scotland to be charged with transgressing the law.

But in his recommendations, Lord Bonomy calls for the law to be strengthened and loopholes closed.

He says there is no clear answer about whether the act has resulted in the elimination of the chase and kill by hounds, while allowing effective and humane control of foxes by flushing to guns.

“Revising and amending the terms of the act and introducing measures aimed at making the actions of hunts more transparent and accountable could lead to a situation where a positive answer can be given to both,” he said.

He says consideration should be given to restricting the underground flushing out of foxes to a single dog, the appointment of independent monitors to observe hunt activities and a new code of practice for hunts, including a requirement to notify the police in advance, the number of hounds being used and identities of the gun operators.