On Friday 1st April, the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee called for views on the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill, as drafted.
RAINE is the Committee chosen to lead on the Bill.
We are calling on all members to respond to the RAINE Committee by the May 13th deadline, encouraging friends, followers and family to do likewise.
Respondents have 2 choices (see image above) when answering - a short survey and a more detailed consultation. The short survey largely repeats the Scottish Government’s previous consultation so we are recommending responses are given in more detailed consultation.
NB: It is better to respond, in short form, than not at all.
We know Scottish Government intends to permit only 2 dogs for fox control, with a licencing system for more dogs in limited circumstances.
Two dogs are no use for what our members require - professional wildlife management to protect ground-nesting wildlife and farm livestock.
Much of the fox control work our members carry out with scenting dogs takes place in dense upland forestry blocks/plantations which require a pack of dogs, particularly given the extent of these forests, which can span huge areas of the landscape, often bordering open hill and lambing parks.
Should a workable licence for a professional foot pack not be obtainable, this Government Bill will lead to dog trainers losing their livelihoods and well trained scenting dogs being destroyed.
Why? No one will pay for a service which won’t work. Lord Bonomy himself acknowledged that reducing the number of dogs would compromise legitimate fox control.
In addition, the Bill will lead to the loss of farm livestock. It will impact the mental health of hill farmers, whose activity is already marginal, economically. It will negatively impact the remaining fragile populations of red-listed upland species.
With World Curlew Day (21st April) fast approaching, who would have thought a national Parliament would actively seek to legislate to make curlew survival harder while Scottish Government uses public money to support curlew conservation?
This seems barely believable and incredible, given the science.
To learn more about population decline of globally threatened wading birds (such as Curlew) and the role of afforestation/predators, read: https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12167
Remember, Scotland has an 8th of the world’s breeding curlew.
Moreover, Scottish Government has a target of increased afforestation (18 000 hectares by 2024/25). Now is the time to preserve professional tools for effective fox management, in forest environments, not disempower professionals with an important job to do.
Please respond to the consultation as we seek a sensible Bill which permits professional foot packs, protects animal welfare and ensures rare species/ livestock can breed successfully without predation by foxes.