OneKind hails new hare protection
OneKind animal protection charity has today (17 June 2020) hailed the Scottish Government’s decision to accept an amendment bringing full protection for mountain hares in Scotland, and thus effectively ending the mass scale mountain hare killings, as “a triumph” for the Scottish Parliament’s hare champions and the willingness of a Minister to listen to the public opinion on the status of this cherished species.
Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone lodged Amendment 30 to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill only last week. Today, as the Bill makes progress through its final stage in the Scottish Parliament, rural affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon MSP announced that the Scottish Government would support the amendment. This means that, once the Bill passes into law, the mountain hare will be added to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, as it extends to Scotland, and it will be an offence intentionally or recklessly to kill, injure or take a mountain hare without a specific licence. Mountain hares are currently persecuted in mass scale culls by the driven grouse shooting industry, with around 26,000 mountain hares being killed in Scotland each year.
OneKind Director Bob Elliot said:
“This is a triumph for one of the Scottish Parliament’s hare champions, Alison Johnstone, and also underlines the willingness of a Minister to listen to public opinion on the status of this cherished species. As soon as it became possible for Alison to lodge her amendment, the upsurge in public support has been momentous. OneKind is delighted to have been part of this and to see a successful conclusion to one of our most heartfelt campaigns to end the mass scale mountain hare killings.
“Different reasons given by the grouse shooting industry for the supposed need to control mountain hares, such as the prevention of louping ill, a disease carried by ticks, have been successively discounted, and animal welfare has taken precedence.”
The announcement comes in the wake of repeated calls for change from animal welfare organisations, such as OneKind, and conservation organisations, highlighting the fragile nature of Scotland’s mountain hare population and the welfare consequences of shooting a small, fast-moving animal as part of a wildlife “management” or recreational pursuit.
OneKind lodged a Petition to the Scottish Parliament in 2017 calling for full protection of Scotland’s mountain hares and has written an open letter to the Minister which has now collected over 23,000 signatures. OneKind has thrown its weight behind the action of the Scottish Greens, whose petition in support of the amendment gathered over 20,000 signatures in around one week. OneKind is also a member of the Revive coalition which brings together raptor protection, animal welfare and land reform bodies to call for reform of Scotland’s grouse moors, and has also strongly supported Amendment 30.