AN inquiry to consider new legislation to protect foxes, hares and other wild animals from being hunted by packs of dogs has been launched today by Holyrood’s Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee.

The Hunting With Dogs (Scotland) Bill replaces existing legislation in this area and aims to make the law “easier to understand and enforce” and to close loopholes.

The legislation makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal using a dog in Scotland, except in limited specified circumstances – such as to prevent the spread of disease or serious damage to livestock, timber or crops or to protect human health – and if certain conditions are met, such as new limits on the number of dogs that can be used.

The bill also bans “trail hunting” – when a dog is used to find and follow an animal-based scent – which can pose a risk to wild animals.

The committee has launched a survey looking for views which is open until Friday, May 13. Speaking as the inquiry was launched, committee deputy convener and LibDem MSP Beatrice Wishart said: “Loopholes in the existing legislation have been a challenge to those trying to enforce the 2002 fox-hunting ban for the past 20 years.

“This is our chance to ensure a robust framework that strikes the correct balance by allowing farmers and land managers to exercise appropriate and effective control measures whilst ensuring the highest animal welfare protections. To help with our scrutiny, we’d like to hear from organisations and groups with an interest as well as members of the public. Your views will help us maximise the opportunity to strengthen and improve the law to benefit all land users.”

People can submit views online at

The committee will hold a series of evidence sessions during June 2022.

It is expected that the committee will publish its stage-one report by the end of September.