The Scottish Government A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-22 was published on 7 September. The Scottish Government is proposing to review animal welfare legislation before 2025 and “will introduce a Bill this year to strengthen the law relating to the use of dogs to hunt and flush foxes and other wild mammals, implementing the majority of the recommendations of the independent report on the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, and introduce further measures such as preventing trail hunting.”
There will be legislation on grouse shooting to “deliver the recommendations of the Grouse Moor Management Review Group as a matter of urgency, including the licensing of grouse moors. Licensing or further regulation will cover the key areas identified in the review, including muirburn, wildlife control, the use of medicated grit and wildlife crime.”
Deer management will also be reformed “implementing the recommendations of the Deer Management Working Group” and “We will introduce a new cull return system, to ensure proportionate deer management plans, modernise existing legislation, including deer close seasons and use of specialist equipment when managing deer, and design future agricultural support schemes to encourage a reduction in grazing pressure in the uplands.
At a subsequent committee hearing Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, stated that Mairi McAllan, Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, would be leading on these issues. The Cabinet Secretary also highlighted a review of the licensing system for other species.
Previously a formal agreement was reached on 20 August between the SNP and Scottish Green Party and Scottish Greens co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie have now been confirmed as ministers in the Scottish Government. Their new portfolios cover key areas of common ground between the SNP and Greens as set out in their co-operation agreement. Harvie will become the minister for “zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights,” and Slater will be the minister for “green skills, circular economy and biodiversity,” a vast portfolio covering everything from the national parks through to a new “Green Industrial Strategy”.
The SNP and the Green party have reportedly agreed to disagree on hunting and fox control, although grouse and deer are both mentioned, as is the possibility of greater powers for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Every aspect of wildlife management is under scrutiny in Scotland and the SCA will continue to emphasise that there must be full engagement with rural groups and that policy must be based on science and evidence, especially relating to the use of dogs in pest control and the findings of Lord Bonomy’s review.