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 Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour 2:45 pm, 13th February 2002

The effect of the amendments would be to dilute the requirement that was established by the Rural Development Committee, which was for humaneness in pest control. As the bill stands, a person who is stalking or is flushing a quarry with dogs has to act to ensure that, once a wild mammal has been driven from cover, the mammal is shot or killed by a bird of prey. By changing the wording of the bill the amendments would have the effect of allowing a delay. That cannot be justified if the principle is to be adhered to that the mammal is to be killed humanely. The person doing so has to act speedily and deliberately.

To date, the Parliament has accepted the principle that it wants to move in the direction of more humaneness and not less. Terrier work is one of the most contentious and potentially the most dangerous activity in the world of pest control. The Rural Development Committee decided that those who send dogs underground should act to ensure that flushed foxes are shot as soon as possible.

That decision means that everyone should follow the practice that gamekeepers adopt, which is to put nets over the entrances to a fox earth to ensure that a fox can be shot. Instead of accepting that best practice, amendment 50 would allow people to do whatever they want, subject to what a court might say at a later date.

A court might hold it unreasonable to expect someone using a dog underground to net the entrances to the fox earth, if that person does not own a net. That would mean that, if a person left their net at home, they might not have to ensure that the fox met a rapid death. The person could instead chase the fleeing fox with their hounds.

If we create a loophole, it will be exploited. Amendment 50 is set out deliberately to push the boundaries of what can be allowed. We should keep tight the requirement for humaneness. We should reject all the amendments in the group.