Call to stop wide­spread hare culls

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By HILARY DUNCANSON

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.”

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