Most Scots want hunting ban to stay amid ‘loopholes’ claim

More than eight out of ten Scots want to retain the ban on fox hunting as ministers consider tightening the law on the sport amid concerns little has changed since it was outlawed more than a decade ago.

Hunts are accused of abusing loopholes in the ban. Picture: PA
Hunts are accused of abusing loopholes in the ban. Picture: PA

The Scottish Government is set to review of the law passed in 2002, which opponents claim hunts are attempting to get around by “exploiting loopholes”.

Hunts north of the Border can continue to kill foxes through an exemption to the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, by using dogs to chase foxes from beneath cover in order to shoot them.

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However, polling by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland showed that 84 per cent of 1,028 voters interviewed are opposed to fox hunting being legal again in Scotland.

The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said it would submit more than 100 hours of video evidence to the Scottish Government review which shows hunts allegedly flushing foxes into the path of waiting guns.

Jennifer Dunn, from the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “A massive 84 per cent of Scottish adults want fox hunting to remain illegal.

“The law is there to stop hunts from chasing and killing wild animals, but our investigations have shown that the hunts are exploiting loopholes to continue doing what they have always done.

“Our footage clearly shows that whatever the hunts are doing, it’s not shooting foxes as they say they are. It looks exactly like fox hunting to us.”

The SNP has confirmed that it will review the existing legislation on fox hunting to ensure it is strong enough in the next parliamentary term, if the party is returned to government in May’s Holyrood election.

A party spokeswoman said: “This poll, which shows such strong opposition to fox hunting in Scotland, is welcome news.

“As a party, we have long been opposed to fox hunting and the SNP government has already made clear it is intent on reviewing the existing legislation.”

The pledge follows the SNP’s threat to vote against relaxing the fox hunting ban in England in the summer, which led David Cameron to abandon plans for a Westminster vote on the issue.

However, Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said the polling showed how “ill informed” most people were about the issue, as he claimed foxes were a major threat to rural parts of Scotland.

The North-east MSP, who is a former farmer, said the issue was being used by opponents of hunting and the SNP to pursue an “anti-rural political agenda” ahead of the 2016 election.

He said: “It’s one more example of how ill-informed public opinion can be used to drive an anti-rural political agenda.

“It’s also another example of the SNP becoming more populist, more extreme and more left wing.

“The rural environment in Scotland has gone through a population explosion and needs more control of foxes not less, as foxes remain a genuine danger in rural Scotland, particularly to livestock.”