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Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 (Review)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th January 2016.

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Photo of Roderick Campbell Roderick Campbell Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government what its current position is on a review of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. (S4O-05215)

Photo of Aileen McLeod Aileen McLeod Scottish National Party

I announced on 26 December that the review of the act will be led by Lord Bonomy and will begin taking evidence at the beginning of February. The review will investigate the operation of the act to ascertain whether it is providing a sufficient level of protection for wild mammals while at the same time allowing the effective and humane control of mammals such as foxes, where necessary.

Photo of Roderick Campbell Roderick Campbell Scottish National Party

I thank the minister for her answer and welcome the Scottish Government’s review of the current law. I hope that the review will take evidence from Police Scotland on the difficulties on enforcing current legislation, particularly considering the role of hunt monitors and practices such as cubbing. Can she reassure us further on some of those points?

Photo of Aileen McLeod Aileen McLeod Scottish National Party

Lord Bonomy will decide how to carry out his review, but I am sure that Police Scotland evidence will be an important part of the process. Legislation must be enforceable to be effective and it will be for Lord Bonomy to take a view on whether the activities of hunt monitors are a factor in the enforceability of the legislation.

I understand that cubbing involves the hunting of fox cubs and therefore lies squarely in the scope of the review. I am sure that everyone who has an interest in the protection of wild mammals will want to engage with Lord Bonomy and I encourage them to do so.

Photo of Cara Hilton Cara Hilton Labour

Is the minister concerned about the evidence presented by the League Against Cruel Sports that suggests that fox hunting is still going on? What extra resources will the Scottish Government commit to ensure that current and future legislation in this area is effective and that we see a genuine end to a cruel and outdated practice?

Photo of Aileen McLeod Aileen McLeod Scottish National Party

As I said in my answer to Roderick Campbell, the review will look at whether the current legislation is providing the necessary level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals while allowing for the effective and humane control of those animals when it is required. That review will begin this month. Written evidence will be accepted from 1 February until the end of March. We in Scotland led the way in addressing animal welfare concerns with the 2002 legislation and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring the highest level of welfare for our wild mammals.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson Conservative

We did indeed lead the way with that legislation, as the minister rightly says, but given the minute number of investigations into breaches of the 2002 act that have resulted in a successful prosecution, what justification does she have for initiating the review in the first place?

Photo of Aileen McLeod Aileen McLeod Scottish National Party

As I said before, we have led the way in addressing animal welfare concerns, but we have to make sure that the current legislation is providing the necessary level of protection for foxes. Numerous concerns have been raised with us and we have to make sure that the 2002 act is delivering the necessary level of protection for our foxes and other wild animals.