The Scottish Greens are pushing to remove an exemption from new livestock worry legislation for hunting dogs.
SNP MSP Emma Harper has proposed a members’ Bill currently at stage two in Holyrood, which would increase the penalties for livestock worrying, which can see animals be chased, attacked and even killed by dogs.
It also aims to modernise current legislation, for instance adding llamas, alpacas and buffalo to the list of livestock.
But the current draft of the Bill makes hunting dogs exempt, something Green MSP John Finnie described as “bewildering”.
The MSP has proposed an amendment to the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, which will be debated at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on Wednesday.
He said: “This Bill is an updating of legislation half a century old and during that time society has changed its attitude to hunting by dogs. However, what has remained the same is the recognition that it’s a bad idea to have any dog, let alone a pack of dogs, running loose among livestock.
“I hope that Members will support my amendment. If not, it might reasonably be assumed that retaining this exemption is simply to keep the hunting fraternity happy, at the expense of the safety of animals and the livelihood of farmers.
“It is completely wrong-headed, and flies in the face of any pretence that fox hunting was banned in Scotland.
“I hope MSPs of all parties can see that having one rule for bloodsports and another for everyone else is completely unsustainable and will back my amendment to remove this exemption.”
The amendment has already gained the support of the League Against Cruel Sports, an anti-hunting campaign group.
Robbie Marsland, the director of the group in Scotland, said: “We are very supportive of Emma Harper’s Bill but believe it needs to take a belt and braces approach to tackling the whole issue of livestock worrying, and this includes recognising the problems caused by hounds hunting foxes.
“Mr Finnie’s amendment is an important one that would close a loophole which currently allows fox hunts to routinely worry sheep and other livestock.”
He added: “We know that just the sight of one dog can devastate a pregnant ewe, so we can only imagine the trauma caused by a pack of over 30 dogs in full cry tearing through a field.”