Scottish Sporrans – The Licence – The Truth

There has been much publicising and much clamour in recent months over the new law governing certain skins used for sporran manufacture in Scotland. I would like to clear up some of the confusion that seems to be surrounding the debate.

On 24th June 2007 the headline on the BBC’s website said, “Sporran wearers may need licence”. This, as usual with the media, in itself is misleading and has caused consternation around the sporran wearing, selling, manufacturing base in Scotland. The article begins with:
“Kilt wearers could face prosecution if they do not have a licence for their sporran under new legislation which has been introduced in Scotland.”

This in my opinion is extremely alarmist and again misleading when you find out the actual truth. Many people have contacted us in a blind panic that they are 1) Going to get their sporran which had been paid for with their hard earned cash, taken off of them by the Police, 2) Going to be arrested and be liable for a large fine, imprisonment or both for having legally bought a sporran from a bona fide retailer.

The article continues with the paragraphs:
“The laws are designed to protect endangered species like otters, whose fur used to be favoured by sporran makers.
The legislation applies to animals killed after 1994.
Applicants must prove that the animal was killed lawfully before they will be able to get a licence.
The conservation regulations were designed to close a number of loopholes and bring Scotland into line with other EU members.”

Some of the information in this quote is correct but again it is very misleading. Otters ARE covered by this legislation but very few use this animal in the production of modern sporrans in fact you would have to hunt very hard to find one that does use it. The rest of the information is accurate in these paragraphs but what is the misleading part is that they refer to only one animal and seem to infer that this legislation covers all the skins that sporran makers use. This is simply UNTRUE.

The worst part of the BBC’s article is that it has a picture of a badger with the caption, “The legislation is designed to protect animals like badgers”. Absolute rubbish. Badgers are NOT one of the species involved in the legislation at all. The fact that the BBC’s article has “like” badgers in it shows the usual journalistic tactic of “we don’t really know but we will publish it anyway and it makes a good read.”

The truth is that the legislation refers to all animals which are included in Annex IV(a) of the Habitats Directive. The list is about 180 animals long and in NO way has any of the more common sporran skins included in it.

A quote which is being given out by the Scottish Executive in regards this matter is as follows:

“New legislation, introduced on the 15th February 2007, has made it a legal requirement to have a licence to possess live or dead specimens / derivatives of any wild animal listed on AnnexIV(a) of the Habitats Directive, such as Eurasian Otter, Wildcat or Bat, NOT as was erroneously reported in the newspapers to Eurasian Badger, Common Seal, Grey Seal, Deer, Hedgehogs and Moles. The law in relation to these species has not changed at all.”