Scottish Government must act now to protect mountain hares
Posted 29th March 2019
Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform, in which the League is a partner, is calling on the Scottish Government to act to protect Scotland’s iconic mountain hares. Exactly a year ago First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Parliament during First Minister’s Questions that large-scale culling of mountain hares on grouse moors is "not acceptable".
The open shooting season for hares begins again on 1st August and Revive is calling for a permanent year-round close season to be implemented before this time.
A long-running campaign by two of Revive’s partners, OneKind and our League Against Cruel Sports Scottish arm, had been calling on the Scottish Government to impose a year-round close season on hare shooting until a review by the Werritty Commission on the issue concludes. The two charities stepped up their efforts after publishing harrowing footage last year showing brutal, mass killing of Scotland’s mountain hares on grouse moors. Despite this, no action was taken.
Shortly after a Freedom of Information request revealed that an average of 26,000 mountain hares are killed in the uplands each year, while polling revealed 83% of the Scottish public think hare culling should be regulated or made illegal. Mountain hare shooting is one of many country sports offered by Scottish game estates, and grouse moor managers also organise culls of the animals in an effort to protect red grouse for sport shooting. A recent James Hutton Institute report contradicted estates’ claims that mountain hare ticks can infect grouse or that hares compete with grouse for food.
Campaign Manager for Revive Max Wiszniewski said: “Mass killing of mountain hares is just one part of the intensification of grouse moor management in Scotland which Revive is completely opposed to. The brutality of these culls is sickening and the irony is that it is all done in the false hope that it will increase the number of red grouse to be shot for entertainment.”
Despite the First Minister’s commitment that the Scottish Government would explore all options to prevent mass culls of mountain hares and the recent James Hutton Institute’s findings on mountain hares, no measures have been put in place.
OneKind Director Bob Elliot added: “Mountain hares are an iconic species that act as an indicator of the ecological health of our uplands and seeing them gives much pleasure to hillwalkers and tourists alike. Yet this beautiful animal is routinely shot in their thousands – even in the Cairngorms National Park – by hunting parties out for the thrill, and by gamekeepers managing land for red grouse shooting. We all need to ensure this year’s open season on mountain hares was the last.”
As well as OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, the Revive coalition includes Common Weal, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Raptor Persecution UK. Its aim is to set the agenda for a multi-year strategy aimed at encouraging a national dialogue about how Scotland’s moors should be utilised. It believes that a fresh look at how this land is used could lead to a better Scotland, better for its economy, its people, its environment and its wildlife.
Notes to editor
- Revive is a coalition of like-minded organisations working for grouse moor reform in Scotland. Coalition partners include Common Weal, OneKind, Friends of the Earth Scotland, League Against Cruel Sports Scotland and Raptor Persecution UK.
- Polling figures were taken from a survey commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and OneKind and designed and undertaken by Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research Ltd. Data was collected online, by invitation sent to a representative sample of the Scottish adult population, using the ScotPulse panel. A total of 1,038 responses were received. Fieldwork was conducted between 16 and 21 May 2018. Data is weighted to the gender and age profile of the Scottish population.
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