By: Patti Strand  Date: 01/8/2012 Category: | Animal Legislation | Canine Issues |

The Scottish Parliament banned all hunting with hounds earlier this year, a ban upheld by a judge, so the Scottish Countryside Alliance will take its case to a higher court.

The alliance contends that the ban was imposed without evidence that it would improve conditions for animals, that it hampers management of nuisance animals while increasing the cost of control, and that it robs rural economies of jobs associated with hunting.

“This legislation will shatter livelihoods and businesses in rural Scotland yet the court appears to have merely rubber-stamped the act passed by the Scottish Parliament,” said Allan Murray, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance. The decision “does not reflect the widespread concern over the quality or fairness of the legislation or the considerable damage it will do to the countryside,” he said.

Although the law and ruling are limited to Scotland, the rationale for opposition to the ban is the same as that articulated in England and Wales, namely that hunting with hounds is not more cruel than other methods of pest control and that a ban is detrimental to country life.

According to the British Countryside Alliance, “A legal activity, in which tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens participate, and on which many jobs depend, should not be banned unless the case has been made that the activity in question is against the public interest. No case has been made to justify banning hunting with dogs.”

The alliance contended that

  • It is not contested that the quarry species need to be controlled. The key issue that needs to be addressed is: do alternative methods of control involve more or less suffering than hunting with hounds?
  • The case for a ban is not supported by any independent inquiry.
  • A ban on hunting would have adverse consequences on the welfare and overall management of foxes, deer and hares.

Last October a poll found that 63 percent of rural vets oppose a ban on hunting on welfare grounds.

Vets for Hunting – a group of 300 members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – stated on its website that “As members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons we submit that hunting by hounds is the most natural and humane way of controlling the population of all four quarry species, fox, deer, hare and mink, in the countryside.”

The Burns Report, an independent study that examined the impact of hunting with hounds on the economy of the countryside, the enhancement of wildlife habitat, and the welfare of species that prey on farm animals and eat farm crops, noted that:

“No method of controlling nuisance wildlife is without problems, so a ban on hunting foxes with dogs will result in more foxes being shot and wounded.”

Hunting with hounds is done at the expense of the hunters, not the farmers or the public. If hunting with hounds is banned, farmers will be forced to bear the burden of control and of increased lamb losses.

Hunters help maintain and improve about 10 percent of the natural habitat in the countryside. If hunting with hounds is banned, the incentive to do so will disappear.

About 10,000-13,000 people derive income directly or indirectly from hunting, making a ban detrimental to the economic health of many villages.

Others who oppose bans on hunting with hounds include The Kennel Club, Britain’s equivalent of the American Kennel Club, The British Equestrian Trade Association, Farmers’ Union of Wales, the National Farmers’ Union, and NAIA and the Masters of Foxhounds Association in the US. For more information on the ban and on the Countryside Alliance, visit

The Countryside Alliance hosted a march in London on September 22 to bring economic and other issues to the steps of Parliament. Support for hunting with hounds was included in the group’s agenda.

About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…

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