Statement: Hunting with Dogs Bill


“The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) is pleased the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill has concluded with a licensing system which will permit professional foot packs of trained scenting dogs to operate, where the need is evidenced.

It is now vital NatureScot ensure these licences are obtainable and workable and we will continue to liaise with NatureScot and Scottish Government on this.

We have collaborated with NFUS Scotland and NSA Scotland. Our combined memberships -numbering nearly 15 000 land managers- require the use of professional foot packs, particularly in extensive forestry, to protect farm livestock and ground nesting birds; some which are globally threatened.

If the licensing scheme proves to be inaccessible- now that the Bill has legislated for it- the loss of lambs and ground-nesting species will be hard for farmers to bear and could push our rarest species such as curlew, capercaillie and black grouse to the brink.

We sincerely hope that is not the final outcome and we have been encouraged by public statements- and statements in the House- by Minister Mairi McAllan recognising that licensing must be available where needs are legitimate.


Lord Bonomy himself was clear in his review: there was no evidence of professional foot packs contravening the 2002 Act in Scotland and no cases before the Crown.

Professional foot packs are a paid-for pest control service, operating on foot with the sole objective of legally managing local predator populations. 

Lord Bonomy also acknowledged that a 2 dog limit would hamper such legitimate pest control in rough and hilly terrain, so we are pleased his appraisal has been recognised, in the shape of a licensing option within the Bill for such circumstances.

The SGA is disappointed an exemption was not forthcoming for rough shooting in the legislation. We will now focus on working with Scottish Government and the Police with the aim of  guidance being co-produced for shoots, and Police, which will help all parties understand and interpret changes brought about by the Bill.”


Alex Hogg, MBE, Chairman, The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

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