Rough shooting in the spotlight during hunting debate

A fox

Concerns remain over the unintended consequences of the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill on rough shooting and field trials, says BASC. 

The Bill, which this week passed Stage 1 in the Scottish Parliament, will make it illegal to use more than two dogs to hunt mammals, including foxes and rabbits, without a licence.

The inclusion of rabbits is an attempt to close a loophole for those illegally coursing hares, but will also impede legitimate activities such as rough shooting and field trials that use more than two dogs to flush rabbits to guns.

Prior to the Stage 1 debate, the Minister for Environment and Land Reform Màiri McAllan issued a response to the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee report. She provided some clarity on exceptions to the two dog limit but failed to commit to a specific exception for rough shooting and field trials.

She stated that rough shooting can ’continue as a lawful activity’ if gundogs do not form a pack when chasing or flushing rabbits. RAINE Committee Convener Finlay Carson MSP stated: ‘The response does little to provide clarity around rough shoots.’

The Minister remains open to hearing ‘further views’ on the issue as the Bill progresses and as such, BASC will be meeting with her at Stage 2.

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.”

BASC continues to work with our partner organisations on other aspects of the Bill including the licensing scheme.

Click here to read more on the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill and what it means for the shooting community.