On June 17th, in a landmark decision, MSPs voted to recognise mountain hares as a protected species under the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill, and thus will put an end to the mass scale mountain hare killings!
We’ve been campaigning tirelessly on our campaign to end mountain hare persecution since 2016, and so while this was a huge win for the mountain hares , it was also monumental for our team and supporters.
Triumph for mountain hares
Alison Johnstone MSP, who is Species Champion for mountain hares, tabled an amendment a week before the Stage 3 Debate on amendments to Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill.
The amendment received a huge amount of support from the Scottish public, with more than 22,500 signing the Greens petition to recognise mountain hares as a protected species in just a few days.
The passing of the amendment is a triumph for Alison Johnstone MSP and also reflects the willingness of a Minister to listen to the public opinion on the status of this cherished species.
In celebration of the monumental decision to protect this native species, we look back at a selection of our campaign highlights and incredible supporter action!
#HareCare campaign highlights
In 2016, we launched our #HareCare campaign to call for an end to the mass slaughter of Scotland’s mountain hares. A beloved native species to Scotland, the mountain hare became an integral part of OneKind’s identity and our campaign was very popular with supporters worldwide.
Holding a mass rally at Scottish Parliament
In November 2016 we held a mass rally outside the Scottish Parliament. Around 100 supporters attended the rally and our volunteers knitted mountain hares to be given to MSPs.
Securing a snaring ban
In March 2017, we secured an effective ban on the cruel snaring of mountain hares. Around 5,000 mountain hares were snared each year in Scotland before the ban.
Mountain hare persecution report
In August 2017, we released our report “Mountain hare persecution in Scotland”, which exposed the extent of mountain hare killings in Scotland. This led to a number of companies and VisitScotland immediately withdrawing their mountain hare hunting offerings.
Securing & releasing cull footage
In March 2018, OneKind, League Against Cruel Sports and Lush released a video narrated by Chris Packham that exposed the shocking reality of Scotland’s mountain hare culls. Following the release of the footage, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP commented that “Large-scale culling of mountain hares could put the conservation status at risk and that is clearly unacceptable.”
22,000 signatures on our open letter
In August 2018, we circulated an open letter addressed to Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, calling for an end to the mass scale mountain hare killings. We’re proud that the open letter received more than 22,000 signatures. We had a ‘virtual hand-in’ on our social media channels, given the restrictions in place for the COVID 19 pandemic.
In January 2018, former OneKind Director, Harry Huyton, appeared on BBC’s Countryfile, to raise awareness of the mass scale killings of mountain hares and make the case for their protection.
Widespread media coverage
Over the years, we’ve attracted considerable media coverage for our #HareCare campaign. Following the decision to recognise mountain hares as a protected species, OneKind Director, Bob Elliot, was quoted in several national media outlets, including The Independent, The Guardian and The Scotsman.
Social media ‘storm’
This Bill was very unusual in that a number of amendments were lodged just a week before the final debate, including the amendment to make mountain hares a protected species. Therefore, we had to act very quickly to ensure we helped to gather as much support for the amendment as possible in that short period of time!
We flooded our social media channels with the Greens petition to show support for the protection of mountain hares, graphics highlighting that we had 22,000 signatories to our petition for an end to the mountain hare culls , our footage of the mountain hare culls – where the First Minister called the culls “unacceptable”- and mountain hare fact sheets. We also encouraged our supporters to write to their MSPs to ask for their support of the amendment and received an excellent uptake to this.
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 victory and to see a successful conclusion to one of our most heartfelt campaigns to end the mass scale mountain hare killings. Thank you to our supporters for their passion, determination and advocacy actions towards our #HareCare campaign.