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Fight on to save rough shooting in Scotland

A major political effort is underway to save rough shooting in Scotland from a ban.

rough shooter

Provisions to restrict the use of dogs to control rabbits were included in the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill in order to stop illegal hare coursers claiming they were hunting rabbits. However there is concern that the legislation may be used to attack rough shooting.

The current wording of the legislation is unclear. It includes a general ban on the use of dogs to hunt wild mammals, then sets exemptions. One of these exemptions is for the use of dogs in gameshooting. However to use the gameshooting exemption certain conditions must be met. One condition states that the activity must “not involve the use of more than two dogs” while another condition says that “reasonable steps” must be taken “to ensure that any dog used in the activity does not join with others to form a pack of more than two dogs.”

This second condition suggests that more than two dogs can be used as long as they do not “form a pack.”

The bill has already passed stage one, where politicians agree to its ‘general principles’ and is now at stage two where the detail of it is scrutinised and amended. The bill was not part of the agreement between the governing SNP and the Greens and the smaller party are not expected to support it as it stands. Labour are also unlikely to support it in its current form.

This may force the SNP to find a compromise position with the Scottish Conservatives in order to get the bill passed which creates an opening for groups such as BASC to promote changes to the bill. BASC Scotland public affairs manager Peter Clark said: “The bill in its current form is not fit for purpose, but that said, we are encouraged by Minister Màiri McAllan’s commitment to listen to stakeholders such as BASC, to help improve the current proposals.

“There was agreement from some SNP and Scottish Conservative MSPs that rough shooting should not be unintentionally criminalised as a result of the introduction of the two dog limit and the inclusion of rabbits in the bill.

“We look forward to meeting again with the Minister to stress our concerns about the impracticability of the current wording.”