Groups warn over ‘Hunting With Dogs’ Bill

COUNTRYSIDE groups have warned Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) about “unintended consequences” from the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill that’s making its way through Holyrood.

Representative from the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC), the Kennel Club, and Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups (SRMGs) met with MSPs to warn them that the bill poses a threat to both rough shooting and field trials for gundogs.

The Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill is currently at stage one in its consideration by the Scottish Parliament.

Lianne MacLennan, national coordinator for SRMGs, said: “There is a real risk that the complexity of the legislation will deter people from taking part, as they will be worried they could inadvertently break the law, if their dog chases a fox or a rabbit.

“We believe the intention was not to stop all gundog trials or rough shooting, but that may be the end result.

“Both of these activities attract thousands of participants from across the UK and are an important part of country sports, bringing visitors to rural areas, supporting jobs and boosting expenditure in local pubs and shops.”

SRMGs said “rough shooting” is “the name given to informal walked-up shooting involving flushing out mixed quarry using skilled dogs, for the guns to shoot; gundog trials test the working ability of gundogs in competitive conditions and follow strict regulations set out by the Kennel Club”.

Peter Clark, BASC’s public affairs manager, said: “The Scottish Government has stated that using more than two dogs to flush a rabbit out of cover to be shot will become illegal under the new bill.

“Whilst we welcome the section six of the bill’s exception for game shooting, it isn’t sufficient to protect rough shooting and field trials.

“The exception would become invalid if a single rabbit was shot at a time when more than two dogs were being used to flush or retrieve game birds.

“BASC met with environment minister Mairi McAllan and will do so again ahead of stage two to put our concerns across and lobby for change.”

Clark added: “We are reassured by the recent publication of the stage one report that raised our concerns and we will continue to engage with MSPs to ensure they get the message.

“Further to this, we are continuing our ongoing engagement with MSPs, informing them of the bill’s unwanted and unintended consequences.”

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.

Plus, don’t miss Keith Kingland’s Arctic tern article in the October’s luxury issue of Scottish Field magazine.