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Scottish Green Party MSP Alison Johnstone has launched the first stage in her bid to ban ALL fox and hare control in Scotland. Following a public consultation exercise she intends to put forward a member’s bill in the Scottish Parliament.


The text of her proposal and related public consultation can be read from the link below:

PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THE ONLINE CONSULTATION UNTIL YOU HAVE READ OUR BRIEFING PAPER. The consultation is poorly drafted and (potentially deliberately) confusing. We will notify members when our briefing paper is complete. The consultation closes on 15th September.

Extracts from the proposal:
“The proposed Bill will affect hunters, land managers, gamekeepers, farmers, and others who kill wild mammals either for recreation, as part of land management, or with the intention of protection of farming interests.”

“The proposed Bill will respond to ongoing conservation and welfare concerns by extending protection to more wild mammals, particularly Mountain and Brown Hares and the Red Fox. It also aims to end the use of dogs as a tool for the killing of wild mammals by amending the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.”

“Existing legislation takes the need for wildlife management, including by lethal means, as a given. I would like to see a more modern approach that balances the needs of humans and animals more equitably, and seriously promotes alternatives to the killing of animals.”

“I propose establishing that Red Fox, Brown Hare and Mountain Hare are all protected, and that any killing may be carried out only under licence, as a last resort.”

“I consider this to be a reasonable compromise between the animal welfare and ethical concerns associated with the killing of these species, and the demand from farmers and other land managers to kill wildlife to protect economic interests, particularly livestock and game.”

“In relation to foxes, I would expect there to be a provision, analogous to that provided for in s.10 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, permitting emergency action by an authorised person if a fox was found attacking livestock. However, I would also expect this to be conditional on good post hoc evidence.”

“Mountain and Brown Hares are already protected in their close season, but should be protected all year round, subject to the availability of licences for clear and defined purposes.”

“I would propose to achieve the above outcomes by using my bill to amend the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. If this approach is taken then all three species should be added to Schedule 5.” (i.e. making them protected species)

Proposed exceptional circumstances licensing regime:

  • Licences should not be issued unless the licensing authority is confident that there will be no negative impact on the local or national conservation status of the species in question.
  • Licences should not be issued unless the licensing authority is confident that the proposed method and timing of killing will not have an unacceptable impact on animal welfare.
  • Licences should not be issued where there is a risk that dependant young will suffer.
  • Licences should be issued for specific purposes; these purposes should be stated in the legislation and should be purposes that are in the public interest – and outweigh the public interest of the protection that issuing a licence would override.
  • Licences should not be issued unless they are a last resort measure and one to be used only when non-lethal measures have been shown to be ineffective.
  • Any use of a licence must be conditional on reporting how many animals have been killed/hunted and that they have been killed in accordance with the licence. This information should be published by the licensing authority.
  • Licensing should be run on a full cost-recovery basis.
  • Individuals and groups wishing to kill protected wild mammals during their closed seasons will need to apply for a licence and may be liable for fees charged for determining and issuing the licence.”

Alex Stoddart, director, SACS:

“Essentially, Ms Johnstone’s proposal, which has the full backing of animal rights bodies LACS and OneKind, means that foxes and hares will become protected species. You would then only be able to successfully apply for a licence for lethal control in exceptional circumstances, where you have tried and exhausted non-lethal methods e.g. shaking your fist, shouting, throwing stones (as long as none hit the fox carrying off a lamb or chicken or lapwing chick), playing loud country dance music etc. and have clear evidence of the damage, such as a photo of the fox in question caught in the act.

This proposed Bill is environmentally illiterate and, should it gain parliamentary traction, will be the final coffin nail in our fragile rural economy and natural heritage. It would also be an embarrassment to the Scottish Parliament, which quite rightly considers it should be taken seriously by the rest of the UK. So much for an environmentally-friendly Green Party.

SACS took (and continues to take) a professional, robust approach to the Scottish Government’s own ongoing Bonomy review process; we will be taking the same approach to Ms Johnstone’s fanatical Bill. For so many of our members, and for me as a fox controller for conservation and farming interests over a vast area of challenging terrain, fox and hare control is an absolute ecological necessity.

When you sign up as a SACS member you benefit from strong, competent representation. I can promise you that is exactly what you will get with this latest attack on our community and our environment.

Please wait for our members’ briefing paper before responding to the online consultation. The consultation is poorly drafted and confusing; it is vital that the questions are answered properly.”