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Huntsman defends fox killlings

THE KILLING of five foxes has prompted a police inquiry into whether the new law banning hunting with dogs in Scotland has been broken, writes Nick Mays.

The animals died in woods at Echt, near Aberdeen, after a 30-strong pack of hounds was used to flush them out to waiting shotguns.

Huntsman Richard Holman-Baird said that one of the foxes had been finished off by hounds but that he had obeyed the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, which came into force on August 1.

The Act states that a person who deliberately hunts a wild mammal with a dog is committing an offence. But the law allows foxes to be shot if a dog is used to flush them from cover to protect livestock, ground-nesting birds, fowl or game birds or to protect crops.

Police yesterday confirmed that they were investigating the incident which took place on Wednesday, October 2nd. A spokesman for Grampian Police said: "We have charged no one.

We are looking into it and discussing it with the Procurator Fiscal."

Mr Holman-Baird, laird of the Rickarton Estate at Stonehaven, said: "It is totally within the bounds of the law that if a fox is wounded we should despatch it as soon as we possibly can.

"One of the problems with the methods we are left with, during these fox control days rather than the old tried system, is that when a fox is inside the ring of guns there is little chance of it escaping. What you are going to do is kill far more foxes than by the old method, when in effect you were testing their fitness by running them over a distance."

Les Ward, chairman of the Scottish Campaign Against Hunting with Dogs, said: "If he is working to the letter of the law and he is flushing the foxes out to be shot with waiting guns, then that is ok. What he cannot do is chase a pack and terrify foxes."