Call to stop widespread hare culls
A temporary ban on the culling of mountain hares on grouse moors has been demanded by a coalition of Scottish wildlife organisations.
The ten groups, including RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), argue that reports suggest a period of “voluntary restraint” of large-scale culls, called for nearly three years ago to allow research to be carried out, is being ignored.
They are appealing to the Scottish Government to introduce “urgent safeguards” to protect mountain hares, saying culls are believed to be leading to severe population declines and potentially even local extinctions.
Moorland managers say the culls are sometimes necessary to limit the spread of ticks, protect trees and to maintain fragile habitats, while gamekeepers maintain that voluntary restraint is being exercised. Calling for the temporary ban Susan Davies, director of conservation at SWT, said: “We believe that grouse moor managers have a responsibility for this important native species.
“Lethal control should be halted until there is both accurate information on the number of hares culled, and the true effect of these culls on the health of the hare population is known.”