by Countryside Alliance



Photography by Linda Mellor Photography

The Press and Journal newspaper serving northern and highland Scotland reported on the 10th September 2019 that Cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing had undermined the Scottish Governments plans to further restrict the use of foxhounds, further suggesting that the MSP is a supporter of hunting. Political Editor Tom Peterkin elected to omit his accusers.

Countryside Alliance Director Scotland Jamie Stewart said: “It is disappointing that Scotland’s Rural Economy secretary Fergus Ewing has come under unwarranted criticism for highlighting the practicalities of foxhounds when protecting some of Scotland’s most iconic species such as the Capercaillie and Black Grouse. Mr Ewing clearly understands the challenges faced by many rural farmers, gamekeepers and conservationist as the battle the elements to control fox numbers. Black Grouse, Capercaillie and other ground nesting birds such as the threatened Curlew, nest in areas of high cover, woodland and woodland edge habitat where control methods such as night shooting and snaring are ineffective”.

“Calling on the services of foxhound packs to flush foxes to be shoot remains the most appropriate method and one supported by senior law Lord Bonomy. In his most recent review for the Scottish Government, he stated  ”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”.

“And in response to suggestions that the number of dogs allowed in such activity should be restricted he found:

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”.

“And importantly he stated that:

“Whatever the outcome of his Review, wild mammals will continue to be killed for pest control reasons. Sentiment has no part to play in evaluating the material presented to and gathered in the course of the Review. Conclusions have to be based on evidence”

“Green MSP Alison Johnstone and her Animal Rights supporters wrongly accuse Mr Ewing or anyone else operating foxhounds packs as supporters of hunting. The introduction of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 made illegal the deliberate hunting of a wild mammals with a dog(s). Lets be clear, the flushing of wild mammals to be shot is not hunting.”

“Unfortunately, Ms Johnstone does not seem to have considered the evidence or conclusions presented by Lord Bonomy. If she had she would realise that there is no justification whatsoever for any further restrictions on the use of dogs in pest control.”

MS Johnstone launched a public consultation as part of her draft Member’s Bill to provide protection for foxes, brown hares and mountain hares in Scotland.

Please find our response to Alison Johnstone’s bill here. Feel free to review the response and to use the statistical analysis to aid your own personal response. The consultation closes on the 15th September. Don’t let this opportunity to have your voice heard pass by.

The consultation can be found here.

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