Section 1A — Exception: stalking and flushing from cover

Part of Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:45 pm on 13th February 2002.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party 2:45 pm, 13th February 2002

The amendments are important technical amendments. I await with interest the Executive's response. Members who read line 21 of page 1 of the bill will see that activities to control pests and other activities will be excepted

"only if that person acts to ensure that, once the target wild mammal is found or emerges from cover, it is shot, or killed by a bird of prey or a dog".

So the duty on the person carrying out the pest control is to ensure that the mammal is killed one way or another.

Pest control is not like that. No matter how good a marksman may be, he or she cannot always guarantee that the quarry will be shot. Therefore, I suggest that the phrase "acts to ensure" should be replaced either by "seeks to ensure" or "takes reasonable steps to ensure". The phrase "takes reasonable steps" is one that the Minister for Environment and Rural Development will recognise is a feature of much legislation—I note that I have the minister's attention. The concept of reasonable care is one with which Scots law is well acquainted. However, the task of ensuring that something happens is plainly a hurdle too high. My amendments 40, 49 and 50 are meant to be helpful.

In conclusion, I will make a serious point. If it is impossible, as I suggest, to guarantee success in pest control activities, those who are engaged in those activities will not be covered by the exception. If they are not covered by the exception, they will be committing a crime if they shoot and miss.