Report from George Markie
A HIGHLAND laird claims he will get round the ban on fox hunting by using cheetahs.
Self-styled Monarch of the Glen Michael Dudgeon says the new law only prohibits hunting with dogs.
The 51-year-old plans to start hunting with big cats on his Southern Estate at Crakaig, near Helmsdale, Sutherland.
Dudgeon says his plan will expose a loophole in the law and protect jobs around his 6000-acre estate.
He said: "The Bill doesn't cover this point. People have been hunting with cheetahs since the time of Kubla Khan."
The big cats will come from a multi-millionaire businessman who saves and breeds rare species in the Middle East.
Dudgeon claims they will be ideal for bringing down hares, deer and foxes.
He added: "This started as a protest against the Bill, but the more I've looked into it, the more feasible it has become.
"Cheetahs are easily trained. You hood them and have them on a lead. When you spot the quarry you whip the hood off and release them and they set off in pursuit. It's all done at top speed and the kill is quick and final." Dudgeon, who is a Lib-Dem hopeful for the next Scottish Parliament elections, is aware his idea will be controversial.
Les Ward, a spokesman for Advocates for Animals, said: "Hunting with cheetahs is illegal. You need a licence to keep big cats, never mind let them run free.
"Police would never allow this to happen. This guy should visit his doctor and get his head examined."
A Scottish Executive spokes-man said: "The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 is designed to protect the likes of foxes, hares and deer from being hunted with, and killed by, dogs.
"The release of cheetahs to replace hunting with dogs or control wild mammals would probably be illegal under Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
"This would appear to be an ill-informed move which adds nothing to the safety or the welfare of the animals."
© Sunday Mail, 7 th September 2002
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