“Leading Scottish animal welfare campaigning charity, OneKind, is urging the Scottish Government to introduce legal protection for mountain hares without delay.
The open season for mountain hare shooting begins today (1st August) and ordinarily runs until 28th February, a period during which around 26,000 mountain hares are killed by landowners to manage their land for red grouse shooting, or are shot for “sport”.
In June, the Scottish Government agreed to make mountain hares a protected species under new legislation, the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020. This means mountain hares will only be permitted to be killed under licence, effectively ending the mass scale killing.
However, this new legislation is yet to take effect. As the Scottish Government wish to consult before introducing a licensing scheme, it is possible that the section of the Act that changes the status of mountain hares will not commence until later than the main provisions.
OneKind Director, Bob Elliot, said:
“We very much welcomed that the Scottish Government agreed to include Alison Johnstone MSP’s amendment to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) Bill to make mountain hares a protected species. It was momentous to see a major step forward for one of our most heartfelt campaigns, to end the mass scale mountain hare culls.
So, like many others, we are disappointed and frustrated that the Scottish Government has, so far, not responded to requests for an interim measure, to protect mountain hares until the new legislation comes into effect. This leaves mountain hares vulnerable to being indiscriminately killed for an indefinite period. Indeed, shooting groups have made it clear that they plan to continue to kill hares, against the will of the Scottish Parliament.
We urge the Scottish Government to enshrine mountain hares’ protected species status into law as a matter of urgency.”