Helping shoots comply with the Hunting with Dogs Bill

With partridge and pheasant shooting seasons looming, the SGA and other rural organisations have worked with Scottish Government officials to help guide those running and participating in shoots to stay on the right side of the new Hunting with Dogs Bill.

The Bill introduces new provisions which will not only impact the use of foot packs for fox control.

The act means allowing dogs to form a 'pack' of more than 2, in pursuit of the mammals listed in the legislation, is now an offence. Guidance is useful, therefore, in enabling all those who use working dogs to do so, lawfully.

The inclusion of rabbits in the Bill also brings rough shoots within its scope and the published Guidance (reproduced in full below this story) also covers field trials.


Here's what the Official Press release said:


Eight rural organisations have published new guidance for walked-up and rough shooting and field trials, ready for the new Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023 coming into force in the autumn.  


Once the Act comes into effect, no more than two dogs can be used at the same time to flush a mammal for shooting and rabbits are now included in the definition of mammal for this purpose.  This has implications for all shooting activities where more than two dogs are working in the field and foxes, hares and rabbits are part of the quarry.  


There are also implications for deer stalking, field trials, falconry and dog training which are all set out in the guidance.


During the passage of the Bill in 2022 the eight organisations made strong representations to Scottish Government that the impact on shooting of rabbits was unclear and the wording left a legal grey area for those taking part with their dogs.  


This was an unintended consequence of a Bill designed to control fox hunting and illegal hare coursing and, unless there was clarification, it left rough shooters open to vexatious allegations from anti-shooting activists.  


This point was accepted by the then Minister Mairi McAllan MSP who gave an undertaking to “work with the shooting industry on post-legislative guidance in order to manage down the risk of vexatious claims”.  


The guidance published is not formal legal advice but has been produced in collaboration with Scottish Government officials. Those abiding by it should be confident of not being open to prosecution under the new legislation.


The guidance has been published jointly by Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Scottish Land & Estates, BASC Scotland, Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Association for Country Sports, Association of Deer Management Groups and the British Deer Society to inform their members and the shooting, field trials and deer management community.


The Guidance

(for bigger screen version, go to: )



Stoney Creek
Stoney Creek
For Farmers the total feed business

Join our mailing list.