Char­ity’s plea to stop hare culls

Landown­ers say culls are nec­es­sary to pro­tect grouse from dis­ease

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Paul ward

An an­i­mal char­ity has called on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to im­pose a ban on moun­tain hare culling on grouse moors.

Landown­ers carry out culls from Au­gust which they say are nec­es­sary to pro­tect grouse from dis­ease so they can be shot for sport.

Cam­paign group OneKind said death rates of moun­tain hares are not mon­i­tored but it be­lieves around 40% of those killed are shot for sport and 50% as part of or­gan­ised culls.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said num­bers need to be con­trolled in some cir­cum­stances but it “will not tol­er­ate large-scale culls of moun­tain hares”.

An in­de­pen­dent re­view look­ing at the sus­tain­abil­ity of grouse moor man­age­ment, in­clud­ing moun­tain hare culling, is be­ing es­tab­lished.

OneKind di­rec­tor Harry Huy­ton said: “Moun­tain hares are an iconic species in Scot­land that should be pro­tected.

“Our re­port shows that in­stead they are per­se­cuted in enor­mous num­bers for en­ter­tain­ment.

“This killing is un­reg­u­lated, and there are no guar­an­tees that it is not fur­ther driv­ing the de­cline of th­ese species or caus­ing un­ac­cept­able suf­fer­ing.

“To­day, the day be­fore the open sea­son be­gins, OneKind is call­ing on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to take ur­gent ac­tion and in­tro­duce a mora­to­rium on large-scale hunts and culls be­fore the sea­son gets into full swing.”

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “We have been very clear that we will not tol­er­ate large-scale culls of moun­tain hares, but we recog­nise that num­bers need to be con­trolled in some spe­cific cir­cum­stances.

“En­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary Roseanna Cun­ning­ham has al­ready an­nounced the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is set­ting up an in­de­pen­dently-led group to ex­am­ine the sus­tain­abil­ity of grouse moor man­age­ment, which in­cludes moun­tain hare culling.

“We are also com­mis­sion­ing re­search into the costs and ben­e­fits of large shoot­ing es­tates to our bio­di­ver­sity and econ­omy.”

Char­ity OneKind says the killing is un­reg­u­lated.

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