Within days of the opening of the polls, a number of Scottish political parties are pledging to do more to help protect the country’s wildlife, pets and livestock.
By some estimates, almost half of the species in Scotland have become less abundant over the past decade, and currently one in nine species is threatened with extinction.
In addition, several high-profile environmental organizations have seen their funding cut in recent years, including the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services, Scottish Natural Heritage and NatureScot, which has seen its budget reduced by £ 33 million in real terms since 2010.
Now some of the major parties are revealing what they would do to champion animal welfare if elected to Holyrood on May 6.
The SNP promises European-type legislation
The SNP has announced that it will modernize the Animal Welfare Law and create a new labeling system based on the system used in the EU.
Fergus mutch, who represents the SNP in Aberdeenshire West, said: “The SNP takes animal welfare issues very seriously, which is why we have pledged sweeping policies on the issue if we are re-elected on 6 May.
“The SNP is proposing to adopt the highest possible standards – which would include a shift to free range poultry and egg products, woods or barns.
“We will also modernize and update the Animal Welfare Act from 2006 and implement the new legislation of concern to livestock.”
He added: “We won’t stop there, however.
“The SNP also pledged to implement a new European-style animal welfare labeling system that would favor foods produced to welfare standards above those of the EU.
Review of ‘obsolete’ legislation work plans
Scottish Labor says its climate recovery plan will include a commitment to conduct a comprehensive review of what they call “outdated” legislation with the aim of strengthening laws on wildlife protection and animal welfare.
This would involve a ban on fox hunting, snares and the use of electric collars, better monitoring of birds of prey, conservation and the introduction of tougher penalties.
The party leader Anas Sarwar Labor says will also create a Scottish Conservation Corps that would employ 10,000 people dedicated to restoring Scotland’s natural environment.
Mr Sarwar said: “Scotland’s natural environment is one of the best in the world and we have a responsibility to protect and promote the wildlife that lives there.
“Years of SNP cuts have weakened our environmental agencies.
“Too many of our species are threatened with extinction.
“The Greens prefer to bring us back to old arguments rather than protect Scottish wildlife.
“This election is a clear choice between a party that will unite behind the recapture of Scotland to protect our natural environment, or a continuing division over the constitution.
“Only Scottish Labor has a stimulus package that will protect our natural environment and create much needed jobs.
“By using the two votes for Labor, especially the second fishing ballot, we can unite behind a recovery that protects our wildlife.”
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Greens say other parties haven’t gone far enough on animal welfare
The Scottish Green Party says other parties in Holyrood have not gone far enough on animal welfare.
He says he will end fox hunting and grouse hunting, and give more rights to farm animals and pets if they are elected to parliament on Thursday.
Alison johnstone, who is running for the Scottish Greens and won protection for mountain hares earlier this year, said: “The other parties have not gone far enough on animal welfare.
“Only the Scottish Greens have an entire chapter on this, and more.
“We have already acquired protections for beavers and mountain hares, and we have obtained from P&O to end the transport of live calves from Scotland to Europe, but we will do a lot more in the next parliament.
“The Greens will end the fox hunt and the spruce grouse hunt and ensure that those responsible for wildlife crimes are brought to justice.”
“We will strengthen the rights of farm animals and pets, including fighting for a ban on live exports, and we will ban cruel traps like snares and glue traps.
“We will ban the breeding and importation of dogs for racing and create a fully resourced wildlife crime investigation unit and a stricter licensing system.
“One in nine species in Scotland is at risk.
“We are in a natural emergency and the restoration of Scottish nature is one of the pillars of our manifesto.
“Only the Scottish Greens have this level of ambition because we know that our entire future depends on it.”
Lib Dems would overhaul grouse shooting
The Scottish Liberal Democrats say they are committed to achieving the highest possible animal welfare standards.
The party is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Werrity grouse moor magazine, which concluded that a licensing system should be introduced for grouse hunting.
He also says he will pursue the findings of Lord Bonomy’s report which looked at the protection of wildlife in Scotland.
Rosemary Bruce, who represents the Liberal Democrats in the North East roster, said: “The Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto contains a broad package of measures to support the highest standards of animal welfare.
“These include cracking down on illegal pet imports and maintaining the protection of standards for all animals and ensuring sufficient resources for the police wildlife crime investigation unit.” .
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“We will ensure that access to wildlife corridors and woodlands is accessible to all communities and we will implement the recommendations of the Werrity Grouse Review to establish a grouse hunting license.
“We will also advance the reform of the law on wild mammals following Lord Bonomy’s report.
“The changes will sufficiently protect the animals, meet the needs of our rural communities, work efficiently and give all those involved in its operation the clarity that makes it fit for purpose.”
Animal rights issues ‘put aside’, say conservatives
Jamie Halcro Johnston, the Scottish Conservative spokesperson on the rural economy, said issues such as animal welfare were brushed aside by the SNP’s wish for a second independence referendum.
He said: ‘The Scottish Tories have a strong commitment to animal welfare.
“In the last Parliament, we joined with charities to demand that the SNP government increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty from one year to five.
“After years of campaigning, this was adopted in 2020.
“We have engaged with a wide range of groups when preparing our rural manifesto and our nature bill, and we believe our relationship with the environment should be considered in the next parliament.
“But I believe issues like this have been sidelined by the SNP’s continued pressure for a second independence referendum, which has looked away from the things that really matter.
“In this election, voters have the opportunity to say no to another divisive referendum by stopping a majority of the SNP.
“The Scottish Conservatives proved in the last Scottish Parliament election that we are the best way to do it, as the biggest opposition party.
“It’s time to reassess our human relationships with other species”
The Animal Welfare Party, which is dedicated to animal welfare and animal welfare rights, says the new Scottish government should reassess the relationship of the human population to other species.
The party is running for Lothian’s list in Thursday’s election.
Jane Smith of the Animal Welfare Party said, “We don’t think mainstream political parties are doing enough when it comes to animal welfare at all – there is a lot of talk and very little meaningful action.
“At election time, the biggest parties like to present themselves as ‘strong on animal rights’, but the truth is that the majority of politicians in the bigger parties still eat animals.
“While at Animal Welfare Party, we have a ‘Shared Earth’ philosophy that humans are one species among many, but the needs of other species must be considered in our human decision-making processes.
‘Our message to the New Scottish Government would be: In this era of climate emergency and pandemics, it is time to reassess our human relationships with other species and to start restoring the much needed balance for people, animals and l ‘environment.
“Scotland could be, and should be, a world leader in progressive animal rights, land rights and environmental justice policy – and so many of these policies are obvious ‘win-win-win’ for people, animals and the environment.
“We hope that the Scottish leaders after 6 May will seize this opportunity for real change and do the right thing by the people, the animals and the land of Scotland instead of ‘doing business as usual’ which does just works for no one.