Today, in response to a question in the Scottish Parliament from Green MSP Alison Johnstone, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP said:
“Large-scale culling of mountain hares could put the conservation status at risk and that is clearly unacceptable.”
The question followed footage released today (Thursday 29th March) from an investigation carried out by OneKind, The League Against Cruel Sports and Lush which revealed the brutal, military style mass killing of Scotland’s mountain hares on grouse moors.
“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.”
In response, OneKind Director Harry Huyton said:
“The footage we have released today is shocking. Large-scale killing of mountain hares appears to be routine on some shooting estates in spite of an agreement with the Government to practise restraint. I am encouraged that the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government appear to be taking this new evidence very seriously.
“Mountain hares are an iconic species, native to the Highlands of Scotland. They urgently need protection, and I hope that the process that the First Minister has announced today will lead to this being delivered before the start of the open season on the 1st of August this year.”
Notes to editor:
- OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals.
- The footage can be viewed here.
- The First Minister’s answer in full:
“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.”
- Alison Johnstone MSP question in full:
“New footage of the sickening slaughter of mountain hares is reported by the BBC today. Has the fact that this evidence comes from well-regarded animal welfare groups finally convinced the Scottish government that voluntary restraint is sadly lacking on too many shooting estates? When and with whom will the urgent meetings that the government now seeks take place and when will the Scottish government introduce new legal protection for this fabulous, iconic animal?”