Charities have today intensified their calls for urgent action from the Scottish Government to prevent the further mass killing of Scotland’s mountain hares.
The open season on mountain hares begins today (1st August) and runs until 28 February. During this period, tens of thousands of mountain hares will be killed. The majority will be killed by gamekeepers to manage their land for red grouse shooting, while the rest are shot freely for fun.
Figures released earlier this year under Freedom of Information show that large-scale mountain hare killing has been routine in Scotland for many years, with an average of 25,961 mountain hare killed a year. However, numbers reached an all-time high in 2014 when 37,681 were killed.
83% of the Scottish public think culling should be regulated or made illegal, according to polling commission by OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports in May 2018.
Harry Huyton, Director of OneKind said:
“The First Minister and The Cabinet Secretary have both been clear that the large-scale culling of mountain hares is unacceptable, yet once again the killing season has begun, and Scotland’s mountain hares are left unprotected. It’s time to say enough is enough. We’re calling on the Scottish Government to move from rhetoric to action by introducing protections for mountain hares before the killing reaches its peak in the winter months”
Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said:
“Scottish estates kill thousands and thousands of mountain hares in the hope that this will increase the population of red grouse shot for entertainment later in the year. Their equation is: more dead mountain hares equals more dead red grouse.
“This circle of death is just one part of the out of control intensification of grouse moor management. The Government should both protect the mountain hare and seriously consider the wider impact that grouse moors have on Scotland’s wildlife and environment.”
Notes to editor:
- OneKind, the League Against Cruel Sports and the Hare Preservation Trust have launched a video on social media calling for an end to mountain hare killing on Wednesday 1 August which can be viewed here.
- 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.
- Footage of large-scale mountain hare culls in Scotland released in March 2018 can be viewed here.
- The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP gave the following answer in response to a question in the Scottish Parliament from Green MSP Alison Johnstone: “I share Alison Johnstone’s concern and anger because it’s evident in her voice that some of the images that we’re seeing on our screens today there is real public concern and we share the public concern about this iconic species on the Scottish mountains. Large-scale culling of mountain hares could put the conservation status at risk and that is clearly unacceptable I know that the pictures that she refers to will be distressing to many people. These meetings will take place with all relevant stakeholders, landowner groups, gamekeepers and environmental organisations. I want to be very clear today that the Government will be exploring all available options to prevent the mass culling of mountain hares and one of those options is of course legislation and a licencing scheme. What we are seeing is not acceptable and that is a very clear message that goes from the government today.”