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Scotland to introduce new legislation on fox hunting
Mairi Gougeon also revealed an intention to explore the option of a licensing scheme to permit the use of more than two dogs.
Change will limit the number of dogs to two 

Scotland is to introduce new legislation that will limit the number of dogs that can be used in fox hunting.

The change comes after a review of the subject by the Right Honourable Lord Botany and means that hunters will no longer be allowed to use more than two dogs to flush or find a fox.

Announcing the move in Parliament, rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon also revealed an intention to explore the option of a licensing scheme to permit the use of more than two dogs, if it were deemed necessary for pest control.

Furthermore, she said that the bill will include pre-emptive measures to address the likelihood of trail hunting becoming established in Scotland.

“The welfare of animals in Scotland, whether domestic, farmed, or wild, is one of this government’s highest priorities and so, when it became apparent that legislation introduced in 2002 to protect foxes from unnecessary hunting wasn’t having the desired effect, we wanted to take firm action,” said Ms Gougeon.

“We asked Lord Bonomy to undertake a review into how we can provide a sufficient level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals, whilst allowing for the effective and humane control of them when absolutely necessary, and published a consultation which attracted nearly 19,000 responses. 

“After careful consideration of those responses, I’m pleased to say that we will be taking forward many of the recommendations in Lord Bonomy’s report to clarify and strengthen the Protection of Wild Mammals Act.”

She continued: “Not only do we hope to implement the vast majority of those recommendations, we will be going further. We’re going to strengthen our current legislation and plan to introduce measures that go beyond the rest of the UK in terms of protecting the welfare of our wild mammals.”

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”