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Campaign and petition email responses | Will you show up and take a stand for British wildlife?

Campaign and petition email responses

Will you show up and take a stand for British wildlife?

Animal welfare is an area which the SNP takes extremely seriously. The SNP has been vocal in addressing concerns in this area at a UK level and through the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government which seeks to take steps to strengthen animal welfare legislation.  

Not only is Scotland the best place to spot wildlife in the UK, thanks to efforts of Scottish animal welfare organisations working with the Scottish Government have helped conserve endangered species mountain hares, alongside reintroducing native species to the area like beavers in our waterways, Highland wildcats in the woodlands of the Scottish Highlands or white-tailed eagles on our islands among many other examples.

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament in June 2020, enshrining in law tougher penalties for individuals who abuse animals. The legislation increases the penalties incurred from a previous maximum sentencing of 12 months in prison and a £20,000 fine to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.  

The Scottish Government welcomed the UK Government replicating the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill in the form of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act which raises the maximum prison sentence to 5 years for animal abuse in England. 

The Scottish Government has a Programme for Government commitment to publish ‘a strategic approach to wildlife management that puts animal welfare at the centre while protecting public health and economic and conservation considerations.” The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission is engaging with NatureScot on their wildlife welfare principles which forms part of this commitment. From May 2023, the working group will also consider the issue of translocation of wild animal species.

Despite positive developments, the UK Government significantly lacks legislation which protects and safeguards animal welfare whether domesticated or wild.

The Scottish Government continues to lead the way in addressing animal welfare concerns with the Scottish Parliament banned fox hunting in 2002 two years before the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government recently passed the Hunting with Dogs Bill which fulfils commitments to strengthen the law on hunting with dogs. The chasing and killing of a wild mammal with a dog for sport or otherwise has no place in modern Scotland, and has been illegal for twenty years. The Scottish Government sought to close loopholes in existing legislation which has allowed that already illegal activity to persist. 

The Hunting with Dogs Bill facilitates legitimate predator control, while upholding the highest animal welfare standards in a licensing regime that seeks to better regulate against animal and wildlife abuses. This also fits alongside plans to license grouse shooting and implement the recommendations of the Deer Working Group to modernise deer management legislation.

Protecting Scotland’s wild animals in their natural environment has always been and will remain a key priority for the Scottish Government

The SNP continue to call on the UK Government to update animal welfare legislation to be more in line with the Scottish Government focusing on the ethical and humane rights of animals to improve their welfare standards domestically, and to combat wildlife crime against protected and endangered species by the full letter of the law.

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@StewartMcDonald on Twitter