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Two-dog law comes into force

The new law will have far-reaching implications for rough shooting.

Under the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023, it is now illegal for a person to use more than two dogs to search for, chase or stalk a wild mammal without a licence in Scotland. If it can be shown that conservation is the primary purpose for using more than two dogs, an ‘environmental benefit’ licence application can be granted.

Scottish environment minister Gillian Martin said: “This is a truly historic milestone for wildlife protection in Scotland. This law finally closes the loopholes that have allowed the archaic practice of hunting wild animals with packs of dogs.”

Patrick Laurie, an author and conservationist based in Dumfries and Galloway, said to ST: “Despite a range of concerns expressed by shooting and countryside organisations about the changes proposed by this law, the most pressing issues here surround the practicalities of observance and enforcement. The new laws will have far-reaching fallouts for rough shooting, rabbiting and all manner of country sports. In taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, the Scottish government has kicked up a strange fog of confusion about the legal nature of ‘hunting’.”

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.