Fox management under threat in Scotland

Plans to protect foxes and ban the use of dogs in fox control have been described as a “slap in the face” by the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA). 

The proposal from Green MSP Alison Johnstone includes protection for foxes which would only be able to be culled under licence as an “emergency action by an authorised person if a fox was found attacking livestock” but has been dismissed as totally unworkable and completely illogical. 

Low estimates suggest that 35,000 new-born and infant lambs are killed by foxes each year. There are various methods currently in place in Scotland to protect livestock, game and ground-nesting birds, including the use of flushing dogs.

A recent review into hunting legislation carried out in Scotland concluded that further restrictions on the use of dogs in fox control could “seriously compromise effective pest control”. An additional peer-reviewed study proved conclusively that using a pack of dogs is both more effective and quicker than using two dogs. 

The SCA added that although the Bonomy review did not support further restrictions on the use of dogs in fox control, they would work with the government to develop operational protocols for the necessary management of foxes and other wild animals. 

Jamie Stewart, Director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, commented: “Ms Johnson is ignoring all the available evidence on fox management and welfare, and she knows it.

“The protection of foxes is a ludicrous idea which is a slap in the face to every sheep farmer in the country. Fox control has always been focussed on lowering the population to a level that makes attacks on livestock less likely.

“Ms Johnson is now proposing that farmers will have to wait until a fox has killed a lamb before it will be legal to shoot it.

“Her proposed legislation jumps on every available bandwagon and has no justification on the basis of evidence or principle.

“The proposals would remove the rights of farmers across Scotland to control foxes effectively and protect their livelihoods, with no evidential justification whatsoever.

“An MSP can introduce a Bill, but they cannot ignore the rights of people in rural Scotland.”

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