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Scottish Moorland Group statement on mountain hares

The Scottish Moorland Group has issued the following statement regarding management of mountain hare populations.

Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, said: “Mountain hare management is not only legal but necessary and is carried out within a regulatory framework of closed seasons and licences administered by Scottish Natural Heritage.  It has many parallels with management of deer where large numbers will damage habitats, trees and also spread tick, so they are controlled according to local populations densities.   As with deer, shooting is the only really effective method of controlling numbers and the carcasses then go into the food chain.     

“Mountain hare populations move in cycles and they have always been managed by periodic culling when numbers are high.   When the population is at a lower point in the cycle, no culling is carried out, that is clear and established practice.  That is how managers exercise the commitment to voluntary restraint. 

“There is no threat to mountain hare populations as some activists pretend. Culls on open moorland typically reduce the population by 5-14%.  Grouse moors, due to the way they are managed, are the best reservoirs and producers of mountain hares anywhere in the country. However, the flip side of that is that they then need to be managed periodically as the population climbs to prevent overgrazing and disease problems.

“The results of a three-year study conducted by SNH, the James Hutton Institute and GWCT, looking at the best methods of counting mountain hares was published in late-January and land managers are now taking this forward in population surveys being carried out across the country.  Scotland’s Moorland Forum is also publishing a detailed Best Practice Guidance Note for mountain hare management, agreed by stakeholders.

“This footage has been filmed by animal rights activists, who actively campaign against this type of land management, and have no interest in managing the balance of species and habitat on Scotland’s heather moorland.”


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