Calls have been made for a law change on the legal killing of rabbits – after a man witnessed children and teens cheering as they killed animals in Ayrshire.

A passing motorist spotted a man beside the A79 at Prestwick holding a club and decided to investigate.

Draig McAllister pulled into Collins Aerospace car park on Saturday, January 29 and walked about 150m over waste ground to where he had seen the man. When he got close he could see that there were four children and a teenager there too.

They had dropped a net over a bushy area into which they had placed two terriers and a spaniel.

Draig said: “They were cheering as the rabbits got caught up and they were swinging and smashing rabbits off the ground.”

“I quickly took some photos before the man and teenager threatened me. The teenager had a spade and the man had his club. I was in fear of getting beaten up and my phone taken off me.

“I saw about 8 dead rabbits in 10 minutes, I know they were there for at least 2.5 hours so goodness knows what the total was.”

Despite the distressing scenes, the act is not illegal. However, there is a bill going through parliament at the moment, the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, which would see the practice banned.

Bob Elliot, director of animal rights campaign group, Onekind, welcomes the potential change, he said: “We are dismayed to see that a group in Prestwick have seemingly been using terriers to orchestrate the killing of rabbits.

“OneKind opposes the killing of wild animals and we believe it vital that any form of wildlife ‘management’ should be considered under an ethical framework with animal welfare at its core.

“The public may be shocked to learn that this cruel activity, on the face of it, is likely legal.

“However, they will be encouraged to hear that the Scottish Government is currently considering proposed changes to the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, which could mean killing rabbits with terriers would no longer be legal.

“OneKind is very supportive of this change and, alongside our supporters, urged the Scottish Government to strengthen this and other areas of the law.”

The wildlife liaison officer of the Ayrshire Police Division had been contacted to clarify if any wrongdoing had occurred but they had not responded by the time we went to print.