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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Date set for hunt ban
The ban will begin before the hunting season
Hunting with dogs will become illegal in Scotland on 1 August, it has been announced.

Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie confirmed that the ban would come into place before the start of the next fox hunting season.

He has now signed the commencement order which sets down the date on which the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 will come into force.

It is yet another example of the contempt with which the countryside is treated by our politicians

Allan Murray
The bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in February following a six-hour debate.

It received Royal Assent in March when the Queen signed the bill, clearing the way for the ban to be enforced.

Mr Finnie had earlier indicated that the legislation would be enacted before the start of this year's hunting season in September.

However, pro-hunt supporters described the announcement as "another betrayal of rural Scotland".

The Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) said it would launch a legal challenge under the European Convention on Human Rights within the next few weeks.

The legislation will be challenged in the courts
Director Allan Murray said the aim would be to make the commencement date irrelevant.

He said the SCA had asked the Scottish Executive to delay the commencement order until its legal challenge had been concluded.

"The announcement today shows clearly that the executive is not interested in listening to the voice of rural Scotland.

"It is yet another example of the contempt with which the countryside is treated by our politicians," he added.

Tory rural development spokesman Alex Fergusson said: "1 August will now mark yet another nail in the coffin for rural Scotland.

Hunting season

"Not only will this act have a detrimental effect on investment and the economy in the most affected areas, but it will cause many to lose their jobs and their homes."

However, the Scottish Campaign Against Hunting with Dogs welcomed the announcement.

It said the executive had been true to its word by outlawing mounted fox hunting with hounds before the start of the next hunting season.

This day has been a long time coming

Les Ward
Scottish Campaign Against Hunting with Dogs
Chairman Les Ward said: "The executive is to be congratulated.

"It has ensured that the brutal and barbaric blood sport of hunting with hounds, where dogs are used to chase, terrify, attack and kill foxes, is now at an end in Scotland.

"This day has been a long time coming."

The act will outlaw mounted hunting with hounds, banning fox hunting and hare coursing.

Heavy fines

Those convicted of breaking the law face heavy fines or up to six months in prison.

Last month a huge majority of MPs voted at Westminster in favour of an outright ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales.

However, the House of Lords came down in favour of allowing hunting to continue under new licences.

The UK Government has said it will hold six months of consultation before introducing a bill to resolve the dispute.

See also:

25 Mar 02 | Scotland
Pro-hunt lobby sounds clarion call
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