In 2015, Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced her government would hold a review of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 2002. In December, it was confirmed that the review would be led by Lord Bonomy with a consultation process starting in February and finishing by the end of March.
As part of the Team Fox coalition of wildlife groups, The Save Me Trust agreed to submit to the consultation, working closely in conjunction with the League Against Cruel Sports (Scotland) and a wide range of local groups based in Scotland who have detailed information on the antics of Scottish hunt packs.
Our submission suggested three main changes to the current act. They are:
1. Reduce the number of dogs allowed to ‘flush to guns’ to a maximum of two.
2. Introduce a “recklessness” clause to the Act. This would stop Scottish hunts adopting ‘Trail Hunting’ which is viewed by Hunts in England and Wales as a short term solution to keep the infrastructure of Hunts intact, whilst they seek repeal of the English & Welsh Hunting Act.
3. Introduce a vicarious liability clause to the Act. Scotland has taken the lead on the introduction of this, in respect of the protection of raptors and we believe that extending the clause to include wild mammals would reduce the possibilities of illegal hunting immediately. Landowners will seriously consider their responsibilities and the hunts previous conduct before granting access to their land. We further believe that many private estates do not benefit or support hunting but allow it to continue as it is the line of least resistance. Landowners should have the support of the law to stop any illegal hunting on their land whilst accepting their culpability should they allow a hunt do so illegally.
It is our strong belief that the introduction of the three clauses above would have an immediate and devastating impact for those who wish to hunt illegally with hounds. We further believe that Scotland led the UK with the introduction of the protection of Wild Mammal Act 2002 and the timely review of the operation of the act. This will provide the opportunity to again lead whilst demonstrating to England and Wales that the overwhelming majority of the British public (84% in the LACS Poll of December 2015) want to see hunting of wild mammals with dogs banned completely throughout the UK.