It’s time to end the mass culling of mountain hares once and for all. On Wednesday 17th June, the government will be reviewing these culls and there is only one acceptable outcome: a complete ban on the slaughter.
OneKind has campaigned against these culls for a number of years, having gathered over 22000 petition signatures for our campaign, and encouraging supporters to contact their local MSPs, asking them to oppose the culls and vote against them.
We need your help now more than ever. Please contact your local MSPs and demand a full ban on the culling of mountain hares. Below are a list of statistics and key facts which you can mention to your MSPs when emailing them…
- In 2015, the most recent year for which an estimate was available, estimated that 26,952 mountain hares were killed. In August 2018, the catastrophic decline of mountain hares was revealed by a long-term study from one of Scotland’s most renowned ecologists, Dr Adam Watson which which showed the mountain hare population in the eastern Highlands was just 1% of the level recorded in 1954.
- The Mountain Hare is on the Scottish Biodiversity List, and listed at Annex V of the Habitats Directive as a species“of community interest whose taking in the wild and exploitation may be subject to management measures”. Member States are required to ensure that the exploitation of Annex V species “is compatible with their being maintained at a “favourable conservation status” and to make regular reports on this to the EU.
- The Joint Nature Conservation Committee 2019 report to the EU for the period 2013-18 has categorised mountain hares in the UK as being in an “unfavourable inadequate conservation status” – the term ”inadequate” referring to a lack of data.
- The killing is unregulated and often happens out of sight, it is difficult to scientifically assess the animal welfare impacts, but given the large number that are killed, it almost certainly causes extensive suffering. Shooting any small animal in the wild can be very challenging and there is a high risk of injury rather than a clean kill.
- Commercial hunts may involve hunters with little experience, adding to this risk. As shooting is not a licensed activity there is no welfare monitoring or reporting making it impossible to know the scale of the suffering. After shooting, many hares are not eaten but are dumped in stink pits as waste.
- Following the release of footage which revealed the brutal, military style mass killing of mountain hares on Scottish grouse moors in March 2018, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Large-scale culling of mountain hares could put the conservation status at risk and that is clearly unacceptable. 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 licensing scheme. What we are seeing is not acceptable and that is a very clear message that goes from the government today.”
Despite this statement from the Scottish Government and previous calls for “voluntary restraint” on large-scale mountain hare culling, culls are still taking place across Scotland. Not only does this result in further suffering and persecution of this native species, but it also undermines the authority of the Scottish Government.
- A 2015 report to the Scientific Advisory Committee of Scottish Natural Heritage concluded that “there is no clear evidence that mountain hare culls serve to increase red grouse densities”. Yet we are still killing these animals in large numbers under the pretence that it will make higher numbers of red grouse available to be shot for fun.
- In terms of biodiversity and population control, the grouse moors themselves have a significantly negative impact on the environment. Independent research commissioned by Revive has shown that 4% of Scotland’s landmass is regularly burned on for grouse moor management while around 40% of land used for burning overlies deep peat.In addition to carbon storage and sequestration, other important ecosystem services provided by peat moorland include water regulation, flood risk regulation, fire risk regulation and biodiversity protection.
- Scotland’s vital peat reserves are under constant threat from the damage caused by increasingly intensive muir burning on Scotland’s grouse moors adding to the risk of climate chaos in the future. Ending muirburn for grouse shooting will make our country more resilient to the unpredictable effects of climate change.
- 25 companies in Scotland which offer mountain hare hunting with many offering dedicated mountain hare packages or mixed bag packages that include mountain hare. This can attract shooters from around the world, with companies usually offering bags of 8-10 animals per gun for walk-up hunts and up to 200 for a driven shooting party.
We have over 22,000 signatures on our petition. Please sign Alison Johnstone’s petition here before Wednesday 17th June 2020.
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