Local MSP Christine Grahame says she is “appalled” at video footage allegedly showing Borders hunts flouting the ban on hunting with dogs.
The video was compiled by the League Against Cruel Sports, which claims it shows evidence of breaches of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, which has made it illegal to hunt a wild mammal with a dog since 2002.
Hunts in Scotland can kill foxes by practising an exemption called ‘flushing to guns’, whereby dogs are used to flush foxes from cover in order to shoot them.
But the league says video footage, captured in three months’ surveillance of five of Scotland’s 11 registered packs last season, appears to show no ‘flushing to guns’.
The video was to be shown to MSPs at Holyrood yesterday (Wednesday) and includes clips featuring the Lauderdale, Jedforest and Berwickshire Hunts.
The league’s Scottish director, Robbie Marsland, says the footage suggests at least half of Scotland’s hunts are flouting the law with impunity and operating as if the ban doesn’t apply to them.
“While the hunts we observed claimed to be ‘flushing to guns’ our investigators did not see a single shotgun either used or even brandished,” he said.
But Ms Grahame, whose constituency includes Tweeddale and Lauderdale, told us: “As an individual and as chair of the parliament’s Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare, I am appalled at apparent footage of hunts in the Borders seemingly flouting the law.
“Fox hunting is a barbaric practice which has no place in the 21st century in a civilised society. If there is a loophole being exploited at the very least it must be closed.”
Ahead of the video showing, Jamie Stewart, of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said there had been no convictions relating to fox control with hounds, while Berwickshire Hunt master, Rory Innes, added: “We work very closely with police and they’re very happy with what we do.”
The league now wants MSPs to press for amendments to the legislation, including restricting the number of dogs permitted to two.
But Ms Grahame advocates even firmer action: “The hunt’s activities even if unsuccessful can cause terror to all wildlife and even domestic animals.”
“Indeed, why not ban it outright?” she added.