The Scottish Government has today announced its intention to bring forward legislation that will “seriously compromise effective pest control in the country” according to its own independent review. By proposing a limit of two dogs that can be used to flush out and shoot foxes Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon has directly contradicted both Lord Bonomy’s review for the Scottish Government and peer reviewed research which proves that using packs of dogs is both more effective and more humane than using two.

Lord Bonomy’s review was clear and unequivocal about the effectiveness of using dogs in fox control under the current law, and that there was no case for any further restrictions. He also made a number of recommendations designed to address perceptions about the enforcement of the legislation. We do not accept that there has been any problem with enforcement of hunting legislation, and note that concerns were raised only as a result of the review, and that hunts have engaged fully with both Lord Bonomy’s inquiry and the subsequent process.

All registered Scottish hunts have signed up to the Code of Practice for Scottish Mounted Foxhound Packs and have operated under it since the start of the 2018/19 season.

The Scottish Countryside Alliance believes that this voluntary process should be given the opportunity to develop, alongside the independent monitoring that Lord Bonomy also recommended, but which has not yet been put in place. The Scottish Government have said in their own statement that they ‘will be going further’ than their own review has recommended, which is a clear admission that these proposals are not founded on the evidence but rather in politics and prejudice.

Countryside Alliance Director for Scotland, Jamie Stewart, said: “It is utterly ridiculous that the Scottish Government has chosen to pursue a course that is in direct contradiction to its own independent review, peer-reviewed science and all the available evidence.

“This will put the Government completely at odds with rural Scotland not just because it would remove an effective method of pest control, but also because by ignoring science and promoting prejudice it sets an appalling precedent for so many other issues. We will seek to meet the minister and her team as soon as possible to determine the measures set out for the continued use of dogs within legitimate pest control”.


Notes to editors:

Lord Bonomy on two dog restriction: 7.26 …not only that searching and flushing by two dogs would not be as effective as that done by a full pack of hounds, but also that imposing such a restriction could seriously compromise effective pest control in the country, particularly on rough and hilly ground and in extensive areas of dense cover such as conifer woodlands.

Lord Bonomy on fox control and management: 3.9 …the use of packs of hounds to flush out foxes to be shot remains a significant pest control measure, both to control the general level of foxes in an area as well as to address particular problems affecting a farm or estate.

  • To read the first ever scientific study into the use of dogs to hunt foxes in the UK please click here.
  • To read the Scottish Governments press release on this please click here.