by Jamie Stewart

Rural Affairs Minister, Mairi Gougen, announced on the 9th January the Scottish Government’s intention to bring forward legislation that directly contradicts its own independent review which says the proposal to limit the number of dogs that can be used to flush to guns will “seriously compromise effective pest control in the country”.

Whilst few of us will be surprised about this outcome, especially given the accelerating drift away from logical, liberal, evidence-based legislation across the board, that does not mean we should not be outraged. That outrage should not be about the predictable prejudice that lies behind such a decision, as much as the blatant disregard for anything that might be regarded as evidence or due process.

The importance of foxhounds

Since the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 was passed the use of a pack of dogs to flush to guns has taken place on thousands of days. This is an activity which is open, takes place in public and open to scrutiny. Foxhound packs have co-operated closely with Police Scotland and have amended their practices in the light of the changes in the law. There has been little, if any, suggestion that the law was not working.

“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”. - Lord Bonomy report to the Scottish Government 2016

“Searching and flushing by two dogs would not be as effective as that done by a full pack of hounds, imposing restrictions could seriously compromise effective pest control in the country”. - Lord Bonomy report to the Scottish Government 2016

How you can get involved?

Now is the time to play your part in supporting the continued use of foxhounds. Here are some details about how you can show your support by contacting your MSP.

How do I email, write to or meet my MSP?

You can find your local MSP with a quick postcode search on Parliament’s website here. This will include contact details for them.

Parliamentary rules mean that MSPs are only able to act on behalf of their own constituents so make sure you include your full name, address and postcode in any letter or email. As a constituent, you should expect to receive a response to your correspondence.

How do I arrange a meeting with my MSP?

You can make arrangements to see your MSP either in a specially arranged meeting or by attending the MSPs “surgery” which gives constituents the chance to meet their MSP and discuss matters of interest.

The best way to find out about your MSP’s surgery arrangements is to contact the constituency office or look on the MSP’s website.

When you arrange a meeting to see your MSP, you are likely to be asked for the following information:

  • Your full postal address and postcode to make sure you are a constituent
  • Whether you are planning to bring anyone else with to you to the meeting
  • The issues you would like to raise

Fair, balanced, and thoughtful conversations will keep the door to your MSP’s office open even if you do not find common ground at this particular meeting. Offer to follow up with any relevant information that might be useful.

  • Contact your local MSP. Write/email or visit them in their constituency office during surgery times, even if you didn’t vote for him/her
  • Contact your regional (list) MSPs. Regional MSPs make up for 56 of all MSPs and have the same voting powers.
  • Get involved online- communicate with key decision makers e.g. Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government, Political Parties and news outlets. Tell the world how you benefit from foxhounds.
  • Write to your local newspaper letters page- you have a voice, use it.

If you plan on meeting your MSP then please email [email protected] so I can help advise you ahead of this. 

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