Hunting With Dogs Bill a threat to gundog trials and field sports

BASC has joined forces with Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups and the Kennel Club to raise their concerns about the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill, which poses a threat to both rough shooting and field trials for gundogs.

The groups met with MSPs yesterday at Holyrood to discuss their concerns and to highlight the many benefits of rough shoot days and gundog field trials.

Peter Clark, BASC Scotland public affairs manager, said: “The Scottish Government has stated that using more than two dogs to flush a rabbit out of cover to be shot will become illegal under the new Bill.

“Whilst we welcome the Section 6 of the Bill’s exception for game shooting, it isn’t sufficient to protect rough shooting and field trials.

“The exception would become invalid if a single rabbit was shot at a time when more than two dogs were being used to flush or retrieve game birds.”

Lianne MacLennan, national coordinator for Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups added:  “Rough shooting  and gundog trials are at risk from the provisions of the Bill as it is currently set out.

“There is a real risk that the complexity of the legislation will deter people from taking part, as they will be worried they could inadvertently break the law, if their dog chases a fox or a rabbit. We believe the intention was not to stop all gundog trials or rough shooting, but that may be the end result.

“Both of these activities attract thousands of participants from across the UK and are an important part of country sports, bringing visitors to rural areas, supporting jobs and boosting expenditure in local pubs and shops.”

Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire , said: “The Hunting with Dogs Bill has undeniably caused a great deal of concern among groups concerned with shooting and conservation in Scotland.

“It was great to welcome members of the Kennel Club, BASC and the Scottish Regional Moorland Groups to Holyrood. I am pleased that they were able to share the concerns of their members with many of my colleagues here.

“As we continue to scrutinise the Bill in Parliament, I absolutely welcome the engagement we have had from stakeholders who are committed to ensuring that the Government’s plans are well informed.”

Thousands of people partake in field trials and rough shooting throughout Scotland. Using dogs to flush rabbits from thick cover is an effective form of controlling rabbit infestations.

Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups have created a short film to highlight their concerns about the Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill which you can watch here. 

The legislation is currently at Stage 1 and will be debated in the parliament in due course.