A quintessential part of country sporting life in Scotland is no more, with the adoption of a new law banning most hunting done with the assistance of dogs. 

The move by the Scottish government earlier this year puts a two-dog limit on the use of hounds or retrievers in hunting, bans trail hunting, and fundamentally ends the cherished tradition that is the fox hunt. 

With an eye toward conservation, hound clubs maintained fox numbers through wildlife management in agreement with area farmers and land managers, often for generations. Clubs pointed to real results in protecting livestock and ground-nesting birds from predators, done in compliance with an earlier 2002 law that strictly regulated the practice. 

One of the oldest clubs was Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire Foxhounds. Tracing its origins to 1771 when a pack of hounds known as the "Roberton Hunt" or the "Glasgow Hounds" was formed, the club has maintained kennels for at least the last 150 years.

Now, that has come to an end. 

On the eve of the law taking effect this week, the club held its final meet earlier this month.  

"We were humbled to see the huge support by riders and supporters for our modest hunt in the west of Scotland," noted Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire on social media. "We would like to thank all the farmers and landowners who have allowed us to cross your land in some tricky weather over the years and a big thank you to every single person who has helped out in any way over the years, big or small, it is all very much appreciated.  

"Finally we wish to thank our lovely hounds, we look after them with great love and affection, often better than we do ourselves. It is a labor of love with long hours and for little pay. We do it because it is our heritage and we do it for the love of the countryside and for our love of the hounds. 

"Thank you and Good Night."

John Ward Dunsmore painting,
Fox hunting, while traditionally seen as a British pastime, was once popular in America as well, and many of the Founding Fathers participated in the sport. Here, the John Ward Dunsmore painting, "Return from the fox hunt, Mt. Vernon," depicts Georgia Washington coming back from the field in 1785. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire retired its event calendar in tandem with another large Scottish club, The Fife Foxhounds, which dated to 1756 and held its final meet last weekend. 

An anti-hunting animal rights activist group, Glasgow Hunt Sabs, is taking partial credit for the destruction of the sport and its longstanding clubs. The group takes its name from the British term for a direct action – short for saboteur – against fox hunting in particular. 

"Our group has sabbed every meet we possibly could over recent years saving the lives of countless foxes, stopping dig-outs and exposing the hunt at every opportunity for their cruel and sadistic pastime," boasted Glasgow Hunt Sabs. 

Banner image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Toni Frissell Photograph Collection, call number LC-F905-03607

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