Lord Bonomy to lead review of Scottish fox hunting legislation

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The review will focus on whether current legislation gives enough protection to wildlife

A review is to be held into legislation dealing with hunting with dogs, the Scottish government has said.

Senior judge Lord Bonomy will lead the review focusing on whether current laws give enough protection to foxes and other wild mammals.

Written evidence will be accepted from February until the end of March.

Environment minister Aileen McLeod said she was "delighted" that the "very experienced" former High Court judge had agreed to lead the review.

She said: "Scotland led the way in addressing animal welfare concerns with legislation in 2002, and we remain committed to ensuring the highest levels of welfare for our wild animals.

"The aim of this review is to ensure current legislation is providing the necessary level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals, while at the same time allowing effective and humane control of these animals where needed.

"I am sure everyone with an interest in the protection of wild mammals will want to engage with Lord Bonomy, and I would encourage them to do so."

'Barbaric practice'

The hunting of foxes with hounds was banned in Scotland under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, passed in 2002.

However, hunts are still allowed to use dogs to flush out foxes and chase them toward guns.

Animal charity OneKind said the existing legislation left too many "loopholes" and had done nothing to dent the popularity of hunting in Scotland.

Director Harry Huyton said: "The law which was intended to end this barbaric practice has sadly failed due to a number of loopholes which have rendered it totally ineffective.

"Fox-hunting is supposedly banned in Scotland, yet if you were to attend any meet in Scotland today it would be perfectly clear that little has changed since the law came into force in 2002."

Hunting has also been discussed at Westminster, with UK government sports minister Tracey Crouch describing it as a "pursuit from the past", and saying it should be "consigned to history".

A vote on relaxing hunting laws in England and Wales was shelved earlier in the year after SNP MPs indicated they would vote against it.

A survey for the Countryside Alliance has suggested about 250,000 people will go to a hunt on Boxing Day.

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