Scotland’s first fox hunting conviction comes 15 years after ban was introduced

Scotland's first hunting conviction

We received a bittersweet victory for foxes in Scotland this week. 15 years after the Protection of Wild Mammals Scotland Act 2002 was introduced we have now, finally, witnessed the first ever successful prosecution for an illegal, mounted fox hunt.

Fox hunting in Scotland, as in Wales and England, is illegal. However the current legislation protecting animals from being illegally hunted has proven frustratingly difficult to enforce over the years.

John Clive Richardson and his son, Johnny Riley thought they too could get away with flouting the law - as so many others have over the years. The pair’s lawyer argued they had simply used dogs to flush out a fox from under cover to enable them to shoot the animal - something which is still legal. However, our friends at the League Against Cruel Sports were able to produce crucial video evidence which removed any doubt about their activities. The pair were fined £650.

Whilst it remains frustrating to have a law that proves so difficult to enforce, this week’s news gives a ray of hope that the tide might finally be turning on illegal hunting. This judgment will hopefully set a precedent for future cases, and help the law become an effective deterrent to those who would seek to wilfully break it.

This case has come at a crucial time for hunt legislation in Scotland. Earlier this year Lord Bonomy’s review of Scotland’s hunting ban concluded that the law needs strengthening. As the Scottish government considers which of the review’s recommendations it will take forward, we will continue to work to secure the best possible protection from barbaric, cruel and unnecessary hunting for foxes and other animals in Scotland.

--RH

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