Section 1A — Exception: stalking and flushing from cover

Part of Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 13th February 2002.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party 2:30 pm, 13th February 2002

I agree with Sylvia Jackson that amendments 41 and 94 are most important to me and to many other members who have an interest in this topic.

I urge members to vote for amendment 94, which is a compromise that has been freely given and which commands the support of many members outside the chamber. Contrary to what Sylvia Jackson said, I am convinced that amendment 94 is essential if gamekeepers, terrier men and hill pack men are to be able to carry out their work in Scotland.

Not only am I convinced of that, but yesterday I had written confirmation that that is the case from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association. That has also been confirmed by the Scottish Hill Packs Association, the National Working Terrier Federation, the Scottish Crofting Foundation and the National Farmers Union of Scotland. Jim Walker gave evidence on the damage that the fox did to 47 of his lambs during one short period at Easter.

I put it to Sylvia Jackson that, for such reasons, those organisations are not happy to see amendment 94 fall. In some circumstances, it is necessary to use a single dog to dispatch a fox. Lord Watson himself, recognising that necessity, has allowed for exceptions, such as the dispatch of orphan cubs below ground, and for situations in which seriously injured animals may need to be dispatched in the interests of their own welfare.

Those exceptions have been recognised, but there are other circumstances in which a lurcher needs to be used to dispatch a fox. Such circumstances even occur in cities. I have two examples. There was a lady in Giffnock whose poodle pup was attacked by a fox. As far as I am aware, it is not appropriate to use a rifle in Giffnock or any nearby parts such as Glasgow—I do not mean to discriminate. On another occasion, a lady was hanging out her washing and was accompanied by her Yorkshire terrier, when a fox appeared and suddenly attacked the dog, which was carried for a distance of about 20 yards before being dropped by the fox. The dog died of its injuries. When Mr Bill O'Donnell visited the garden, he could not locate the fox. However, firearms might have been necessary. From Caithness to Glasgow and all over Scotland, it is necessary for a single dog to be involved in such circumstances.

As I understand it, the only argument against the amendment—