Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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Scots falconer’s petition to be debated by MSPs

A SCOTS falconer’s call for the Scottish Government to amend its animal welfare legislation has reached the floor of the Scottish Parliament.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee decided MSPs should debate Barry Blyther’s petition in the Parliamentary Chamber.

It calls on MSPs to amend the Animals and Wildlife Act 2020 to allow mountain hare hunting for falconry.

Local falconry company owner Barry lodged the petition in March 2021.

The Scottish Government passed the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020 with the aim of increasing penalties for “serious animal welfare”, “wildlife crime” and “health” offences.

Barry Blyther says the Scottish Government legislation has grounded eagles for two and a half years.

The Act includes fixed penalties for animal welfare and health offences and also sets out increased fines or custodial sentences for certain wildlife offences.

The falconer says the legislation, which came into force on March 1 2021, has “grounded” eagles and large hawks which have spent their lives flying over Scotland’s mountains. 

He has further claimed that falconers are now at risk of criminal prosecution if their birds follow their “most natural instincts” and catch mountain hares. 

Barry said: “This legislation was brought about in a highly questionable way, sneaking it in at Stage 3 of the Bill with absolutely no stakeholder consultation – it is borderline illegal.

“What is not borderline is how it is a disaster for mountain hares, falconers, trained birds of prey and thus education about birds of prey.

“It’s a welfare disaster and it discriminates illegally against falconers compared to, for example, cat owners and even drivers.”

He added: “Fortunately, Scotland has an almost unique and democratic way to allow humble members of the public to take the government to task over illegal, wrongful or questionable legislation or policy.

“Using this system, the committee has proved itself highly efficient and balanced, and after two and a half years and six hearings, our eagles’ welfare is going to be debated in parliament.”

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