'Historic moment' as new fox hunting ban comes into force

Supporters of mounting fox hunting in Kelso, pictured back in 2022. Image: Ian Rutherford.
Supporters of mounting fox hunting in Kelso, pictured back in 2022. Image: Ian Rutherford.

The Scottish Greens say it is a “historic moment” in Scotland’s progress as a nation, as a new fox hunting ban comes into force.

A new law banning the hunting with packs of dogs and “flushing out” wild mammals came into force across Scotland on Tuesday after MSPs passed a Bill back in January.

This will replace the Protection of Wild Mammals Act, which was passed in 2002. The Scottish Government says that legislation had a loophole that allowed illegal hunts to continue.

The original Act allowed hunters to use dogs to flush out foxes from under cover as long as the foxes were then shot, and providing the hunt was to protect livestock or ground-nesting birds, or to prevent the spread of disease.

Now no more than two dogs can be used to stalk or flush out animals from cover unless a licence is granted. The rules also prohibit trail hunting, where dogs follow an animal-based scent.

The Scottish Greens say this is a historic moment in Scotland’s progress as a nation that respects and values wildlife.

Ariane Burgess MSP, the party’s rural affairs spokeswoman, said: “This is a historic day. We finally have a real hunting ban after decades of campaigning.

“Hunting with dogs is brutal, cruel and outdated. It has no place in a modern or progressive Scotland, and we should all take pride in this new law.

“Loopholes in the original hunting ban were ruthlessly exploited by those who were determined to continue hunting. This law is much more robust, but we will be watching carefully to ensure it is effective and abided by.”

Environment minister Gillian Martin agreed it was a “truly historic milestone” in Scotland.

She said: “This law finally closes the loophole that has allowed the archaic practice of hunting wild animals with packs of dogs to persist in our country for over 20 years. It has taken us almost a decade to get to this point.

“In that time the sheer volume of responses to our consultations have shown us just how concerned people still are about fox hunting in Scotland.

"We have listened and we have delivered. We have succeeded in crafting a law that strikes a balance – one which rightly bans barbaric hunting methods, but which still allows farmers and land managers to undertake legitimate wildlife management.”