Scotland Votes to Ban Hunting with Dogs

EDINBURGH, Scotland, February 13, 2002 (ENS) - Animal welfare groups celebrated tonight as the Scottish Parliament voted to ban fox hunting with dogs. They said the historic decision will influence the campaign to ban hunting with dogs in England and Wales.

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Fox and the hare characters dance together in front of the Scottish Parliament. (Photo courtesy IFAW)
The third and final stage of Member of Scottish Parliament Mike Watson's Protection of Wild Mammals bill came this evening, with an 83 to 36 majority vote in favor of banning fox hunting, fox baiting and hare coursing in Scotland. With today's vote, the bill becomes law.

Hunting with dogs in the United Kingdom has come under harsh criticism for the inhumane way in which the wild animals are killed.

Phyllis Campbell-McRae, UK country director for The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said, "This is an historic day for Scotland's wildlife and its young Parliament. The anti-fox hunting views of a majority of Scots, from both town and country, have been heard by Members of the Scottish Parliament. Hunting with dogs is a barbaric pastime, which has no place in a modern, civilized Scotland."

But pro-hunting groups like the Scottish Countryside Alliance say the ban will create job losses. There will be adverse effects on the welfare of horses and hounds, the alliance predicts.

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Huntsman sets forth with his hounds. West Sussex, England, 2001 (Photo courtesy Hounds)
"Perhaps even more important than all of these is the alienation from government - and the rest of the population - of a sizeable minority of law abiding people, who would become criminals overnight if they continue with an activity that has been an integral part of their lives," the alliance says.

In England, the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals campaign against hunting has entered a new stage to ensure that the government honors its hunting bill commitment.

John Rolls, RSPCA director of communications, said, "This marks a new phase in the campaign. We have officially begun the countdown to a ban on hunting with dogs. The arguments have all been won, public opinion is firmly on our side and people's patience is running out."

Senior MPs from the three main parties have joined forces to coordinate the countdown to a ban on hunting with dogs.

Labour MP Tony Banks said, "We have to deliver a ban on hunting. This is an issue of credibility for the government and the democratic accountability of MPs. The will of the House of Commons has to be enacted."