A REPORT calling for further protections to strengthen the health and welfare of animals and wildlife in Scotland has been welcomed by MSPs.

Holyrood’s environment, climate change and land reform committee issued the report, which would see an increase in maximum penalties for animal welfare and wildlife crime offences; the creation of fixed penalty notices for minor offences; removal of the requirement for court orders for rehoming animals; and increased protection for service animals.

Gillian Martin, committee convener, said: “We have explored the proposed penalties along with the powers given to those authorised to take animals into possession on welfare grounds.

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“We recognise the tight focus of the bill but we’re also in no doubt that it goes a long way to improving animal and wildlife protections in Scotland.

"The health and welfare of our animals and wildlife will be significantly improved.”