Skip to content

SCA attends RAINE Committee round table on rough shooting and the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill

On Wednesday 23 November, The Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee held a round table discussion relating to rough shooting and the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill. Invited to attend were key stakeholders, such as the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA), as well as a number of animal welfare organisations. The purpose of the meeting was to provide evidence surrounding the lack of clarity on rough shooting, and how it will be affected by the Bill.

Rural organisations provided strong arguments on why rough shooting should be affected so adversely and questioned what evidence the Scottish Government had to place such restrictions on a legal, rural activity. The Scottish Government Bill Team clearly hadn't thought that the Bill would have such wide-reaching consequences and have since been looking at rough shooting and how it operates. It is tremendously worrying when watching Youtube videos forms part of the evidence to form legislation, yet this was admittedly the case.

Off the back of this meeting, Minister Mairi McAllan was called to give evidence on Wednesday 30 November in an attempt to clarify some of the points that the Bill Team struggled to previously. The Minister stated that rough shooting had not been an unintended consequence, and that rough shooters were merely being asked to comply with minimal adjustments to their practices. When this was explored a little further, it became clear that it would be illegal to conduct a rough shoot the way it is conducted today. If you are working a wood with more than two dogs then you will not be able to shoot a mammal that is flushed by a neighbouring gun. If you are a walking gun on the edge of the wood you may not shoot a rabbit that bolts from the dogs in the beating line. Basically, the minimal adjustments the Minister speaks of is the compliance with the law that will end rough shooting. Hardily minimal. What you will be able to do is shoot the quarry that your own two dogs flush, or only have two dogs working in an area at once.

So, what does this mean for rough shooting? It means that our faithful working companions may have to stay at home and become virtually redundant. It means that anti-hunting organisations can more easily disrupt legitimate shoots when and if they please. It means that Police Scotland will have an unnecessarily increased workload, investigating offences that never took place. It means that legitimate shoots will be disrupted while the police investigate a vexatious allegation or complaint. It means that shotguns are likely to be removed from all parties whilst the "offence" is investigated, which may take months. As we know, many of those who rough shoot depend on firearms and shotguns to protect their livelihood.

Because of this, we need your help. Your support today will ensure that we can continue to campaign in Scotland to allow the continued use of packs under the new law and, if the Scottish Government chooses to ignore all principle and evidence, it will fund a potential legal challenge. Please give what you can to defend gun packs, hunts and the rural way of life.

It is becoming increasingly clear that, whilst the Scottish Government say they are engaging with stakeholders, which they are, they are not listening. Many of the statements and decisions being made is tantamount to them simply not caring. We had hoped to come out of this process after having worked with the Scottish Government to produce a piece of legislation that would work for the benefit of all, but it seems like this is now not the case since sense just does not prevail. The SCA is currently reviewing all amendments that have been submitted and will be taking legal advice once these are voted on in Parliament.

To keep up to date with the latest news from the Scottish Countryside Alliance, sign up to our monthly Heather Routes newsletter.

Become a member

Join the Countryside Alliance

We are the most effective campaigning organisation in the countryside.

  • life Protect our way of life
  • news Access our latest news
  • insurance Benefit from insurance cover
  • magazine Receive our magazine