Hares_Lecht_25Feb2016 - Copy (2)

The subject of yesterday’s blog, mass killing of Mountain Hares in the Cairngorms National Park at a time when landowners have been asked to show restraint, was also covered in the Glasgow Herald and on the Raptor Persecution Scotland blog (but this blog was the first place to publish the photo above).

The Herald‘s Rob Edwards, who has written about this subject several times before, quotes the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Jonathan Hughes, ‘It is very sad that some landowners are clearly not heeding the very sensible call for constraint on large-scale culls of mountain hares‘ and the ecologist Adam Watson as saying ‘What we now see on the photos and elsewhere is a brutal military-type operation involving several estates and using fast snow scooters and other machines, which can move faster than the hares. Any that escape this massacre must be traumatised.’.

But Scottish Land and Estates can always be relied upon to defend the indefensible in the shape of Tim Baynes who was quoted thus ‘We are deeply concerned that once again an ill-informed attempt is being made to discredit the legitimate culling of mountain hares’.

Roughly translated this might mean ‘It’s our wildlife not your wildlife. We are the landowners – go away little people, go away’.  

Remember, the image above, of a truckload of Mountain Hares, was taken in the Cairngorms National Park – you can give your views on the future of UK National Parks here.

Scottish Land and Estates’s Doug McAdam often uses the Twitter hashtag #helpingithappen on his tweets. So true, Doug, so true.



42 Replies to “#helpingithappen”

  1. Baynes used to work for the Scottish Countryside alliance and be fore that the parent body Countryside Areliars. He has always been a provider of excuses for the inexcusable or denials for the undeniable when it comes to raptor persecution or other such obscenities to do with the pleasure killing of game birds. Some might say a quite reliable chap really the rest of us might call him quite something else———largely unpublishable.

  2. As someone yesterday pointed out, you can shoot 200 a day on the Balavil Estate near Kingussie. Its possible that these animals are on the Monadliath mountains to the west of Strathspey rather than the Cainrgorms but the total of 2000 per year doesn’t sound like restraint and while we know the population fluctuates in cycles, the description given on the Balavil Estate website is a little less biological –
    “they are a fluctuating commodity”
    Not a sentient animal, not even an attempt at an excuse of ecological necessity, simply a commodity – like grouse.

  3. How come it’s ok to flatten deer but not ok to shoot a few hares?
    This is a none story and the journalists should be ashamed at such poor work.

    1. Andy – no doubt you’ll be starting a petition to make Mountain Hare killing compulsory next? To go alongside your, bizarrely successful, e-petition to keep lead ammunition in our food and in our environment and your utter failure calling for Chris Packham to be sacked?

      1. No need for a petition to keep shooting common white hares, thanks for the compliment re my “keep lead shot” petition and I agree with you it went rather well.
        On to Packham, he’s been rather quiet since I created a bit of an uprising. His producer is a really fine fellow…!

        1. Are you Henry Root? Great weez getting tens of thousands of people to sign up to the admission they want to fill the environment and themselves with toxins.
          A 10 shilling note is enclosed for the cause.
          I suggest a petition for the extermination of Mountain Hares in Scotland but don’t do it on April first of they might look up the word.

        2. I don’t think Chris Packham has been keeping his head down because of your pathetic petition to get him sacked from the BBC, in fact he hasn’t been keeping his head down at all. You did him a great service by prompting a counter petition to keep him that trounced yours, by how much was it again? No surprise he is a great programme maker..I suppose that makes some independent makers of let’s say field sports videos jealous. Think you should stick to smaller targets, like the volunteers at a wildlife rescue centre you mocked because they mistook a cuckoo for a kestrel. How big and brave of you. Mind you they still did more for conservation than others who ‘think’ they do by snaring, trapping, shooting and poisoning wildlife. And I can think of far more embarassing mistakes like a self proclaimed expert on rural issues who went on film to criticise the RSPB for the way it runs Mar Lodge Estate….when it’s actually owned by the National Trust for Scotland

      2. Mark as they seem keen to shoot mountain hares then they should expect the same termination of life for themselves, and the sooner the better.

    2. Not just a few though, is it?
      Give me some figures please to justify your comments – also to justify the sustainability mentioned by your contemporaries ……….

    3. Seeing as you think its a none story, I find it interesting that you have bothered to comment on here. No pressure at all then Andy? While I applaud Mark Avery for his work, when it comes to getting the ban I think we will all be thanking you for your marvelous contribution to our cause. And, let’s face it, the real master behind getting a ban in place will be that other Mark, Mark Osborne; http://jamesmarchington.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/poisoned-eagles-and-osborne-connection.html
      I think we will have to have a whip round and get you both medals struck as a memento of your sterling efforts. Keep up the good work Andy, we really would struggle without you.

      1. PS. We’ll whistle a tune for you as we drive the grouse away from the guns this shooting season. We did think for putting your image on a flag (along with ones for Mark Osborne and Ian Botham) but, to be poetic, we wanted to use lead paint and that, strangely, is really hard to get hold of these days. See you come August Andy, thanks for the inspiration!

    4. Well I’ll try and explain to you why there’s a big difference between humane culling of grossly inflated red deer populations and massacring mountain hares. Red deer which number in their hundreds of thousands in Scotland have absolutely no predators which can kill any one beyond the calf stage, not one, not as much as a single lynx, wolf or bear anywhere in Scotland. Something that has only been true for the past two/three hundred years in the thousands that red deer have existed in post glacial Scotland. Even the great whales that sometimes swim off our coast could be nobbled by orcas. So our red deer have to exist without the natural control of predation. Not only this, but they receive supplementary feeding as well! Result we are carrying masses of deer causing a lot of overgrazing not only because of ecological imbalance, but worsened by the idiotic interference of those who think that gross numbers of underfed, but conspicuous deer to make shooting them easier is a worthwhile swap for healthy hills and fewer deer\car collisions with occasional human fatality. Now on the other hand mountain hares do have natural predators – eagles, fox, wildcat, maybe stoat and buzzard? Probably pine marten and polecat. So the chances are that if there is a genuine problem with hare overpopulation its cause would be the persecution of their predators rather than a ”need’ for culling. Of course if let’s say our countryside was being run as a glorified industrial unit to churn out as many as possible of a very, very few ‘sport’ species then both predators and hares would be hammered (‘flattened’) because it was thought for different idiotic reasons they reduce grouse numbers. Perish the thought. Hope this has helped.

  4. A deeply disturbing picture. I would like to know in what way Baynes considers this ‘legitimate’ or the criticism of it as ‘ill informed’. It is not surprising that he has spoken out in this way though as the grouse shooting industry must be rattled by the publication of this photo. Ordinary decent people – whether country dwelling or living in town – are likely to be repulsed by the picture and thus the industry finds itself under yet more pressure. Well done for publishing it and to whoever took it and made it available for publication.

    1. The change in excuses would be hilarious if it wasn’t so terrible .
      The previous recent photos were defended by the grousers as historic and that large scale culls no longer take place.
      When this is proven to be a lie they then claim that it is sustainable.
      Woops. Get your lies straight.

      Anyone who thinks there might be any doubt about the claims of historic and not large scale can see for themselves

  5. Restraint from militias like this? You’re joking.
    But well done for getting this intelligence out there and the informative comments that ensued. The power of the pen in progress.
    Restraint from an elitist minority that owns most of the Scottish Highlands? No way.
    Not so well done to the SNP for their timid land reforms to date. The power of the people but when?

    1. Interesting reading indeed. Makes the very plausible suggestion that the main motivation may be to remove the main source of food for golden eagles as the increased tracking of eagles is making direct persecution more difficult.

  6. In the light of Andy Richardson’s predictable apologia for slaughter on this scale, it’s worth quoting more of the Glasgow Herald’s article. There Dr Adam Watson is reported to “be outraged by landowners culling mountain hares. On the grouse moors that he had studied hares had been virtually eradicated by “severe killing””. Elsewhere I see Andy has claimed that “It’s sustainable harvesting of an over abundant species”. Who defines “over abundant” I wonder? And why if it’s so abundant was there a call for restraint by Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Land & Estates and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust? Even if this is really a problem in some localities (and it would be good to see some data to prove it) perhaps it reflects the absence of Golden Eagles. Now, why would that be so? The bottom line here is who to believe – a highly respected biologist who is widely regarded as THE expert on the Cairngorms or someone whose sole concern seems to be his ‘sport’ even at the price of spraying the countryside with toxins? Not tough is it?

    1. Thank you, John: ‘And why if it’s so abundant was there a call for restraint by Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Land & Estates and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust?’

      Does this not prove that the idea of ‘voluntary restraint’ is perfectly risible?

      Whoever thought it up obviously does not understand human nature – especially the nature of these greedy sanguinary individuals.

  7. Bert Burnetts take on the hare situation makes interesting reading. [rest of comment deleted by Mark]

    Mark writes; Andy – if Bert wants to comment he can comment here. I don’t know where you got that quote from and I don’t know whether it is accurate or not, and I’m not going around checking thank you very much. So it isn’t that interesting reading.

    1. I don’t think anyone is disputing that there are, at the present, enough Mountain Hares on some grouse moors to fill a truck, no one thinks they magicked them from thin air. What i, and presumably others, are disputing is that it is sustainable (look up that word). Is there any data on the levels of these massive slaughters and over how long a time period to back the claim that this is sustainable. No.
      The evidence does show that grouse moors are intensifying
      and it seems very likely that these massive culls are relatively recent. The theory that Louping Ill virus in Mountain Hare ticks effects Red Grouse numbers is recent, so large scale Mountain hare slaughter is probably also very recent.
      No one knows if this level of slaughter is sustainable but one thing is for sure it will reduce the prey availability of Golden Eagles. The example of the moor studied by Dr Adam Watson gives an idea of what happens after the prolonged mass killing of Mountain Hares and his evidence points towards it not being sustainable at all, quite the opposite, that high levels of Mountain Hare killings can lead to local extinctions. I wonder if you have heard of the Passenger Pigeon, if not read Mark’s book A Message for Martha. I am sure if the word sustainable had been in use then, it would have been used as an excuse for the slaughter.
      Oh and what you call sustainable numbers (before the slaughter) is what many of us would call artificially high numbers do to near total predator control. That us not what conservationists mean when they use the word sustainable in an ecological sense. Same is true for Red Grouse numbers

  8. It is completely beyond me how anyone who claims to have any sympathy for wildlife can see this as acceptable. Legal it may be, legitimate, questionable, and immoral without a shadow of a doubt. These images are probably more powerful than grouse shooting itself – perhaps what we need is a Mountain hare version of Bambi !

    Adam Watson’s huge knowledge and deep feeling for these animals is moving and he is doing the right thing in employing his unrivalled expertise to name estates both good (a few) and bad (sadly, all too many).

  9. Perhaps if there were other predators present, culling mountain hares would be redundant (if it was every useful).

  10. What else can one expect from the effective descendants of those responsible for the Highland Clearances? To their ancestors, clearing humans was no problem at all, so we cannot expect any sympathy for a few thousand hares. The mentality of those responsible is the same: something or someone is a bit of a nuisance, therefore exterminate it.

    1. Good point well made Peter. I have some hope for a legal solution to the Scottish land question, but if that fails I wonder if will be an appetite for simply moving in and squatting the land? I reckon I’ve got as good a claim to it as many and I’d happily see an escalation from an ecological issue to the redressing of an historical wrong. You really never know where these things will lead, one day a small protest, perhaps the next a full blown peasants revolt?

  11. To quote that old story from the Kinder Trespass days;

    A rambler who was on a moor when he met the man who owned it. The rambler asks how this came to be.

    “Well,” replied the landlord, “I inherited it from my father, he inherited from his father and so on right back to the first of our family who won it in battle.”

    “Right then,” said the rambler. “Get thee coit off and I’ll fight thee for it now.”


  12. With all the depressing photos of massacred Mountain Hares I went out into the hills today and filmed some hares.

    I have put one short video on YouTube and have given links so that people can view the links given on Mark’s blog.

    If you are interested in seeing the video it can be found here:


  13. I don’t think anyone questions that there is evidence that over the last 10-15 years in particulars culling of hares, often through inviting teams of guns for driven days, has led to excessive exploitation. The justification is of course louping ill, and/or the ticks themselves which can kill chicks in large number in some years.

    Now, regarding this one picture, I struggle to conclude from this that it is evidence of over exploitation. It is of course a large bag, but unless we know it is from one day of many it is likely to be well under 1% of the population it was taken from, perhaps uch less if they were shot in different places throughout the day.

    Re Adam Watson’s point, I don’t see ski mobiles and that seems a bit of an OTT conclusion, that is not at all how these animals are hunted in the UK.

    Finally someone said about waste. These hares are in very high demand by game dealers for the export market.

    That in itself, for me, is a massive gap in the understanding and data. We really should be better at understanding the numbers of reared and wild game shot in Europe. Voluntary info, for me, dosnt cut it.



  14. 1000’s upon 1000’s in the Cairngorms, to destroy a pest that is destroying the natural fauna which supports the rich variety of other lifeforms should be commended!
    Do you guys moan about the deer culls? The millions of rabbits that need to be killed every year to grow all this extra food for the extra vegans and veggies? Not to mention the rats and mice! Think pest control, and lets stop being so god damn sentimental over some animals to others

  15. Was nothing witty or amusing intended was just bringing a few facts to your blog.
    Do you spend much time in the Highlands?
    Or do you just feed off others and blog on hearsay?

  16. What I have read is very inaccurate, very one sided and made out to make you sound very knowledgable.
    This makes you a populist blogger who feeds the masses of uneducated (on the subjects blogged) what they want to read, at the expense of the minority that are usually far more informed!
    These social media driven campaigns have the power to cause lasting irreversible damage to our lovely country, we will be long gone when these changes are noticed but my children will be the ones who miss out on so much which is synomous with Scotland and the UK. Wildlife management, like building management, like football management, like retail management is always best left with people who have been taught the skills not those who heard it from a friend of a friend on Facebook?

    1. Andy – well your comments, both of them, are a model of deep-thinking impartiality (as will be obvious to all who read them). Thanks very much for sharing your great intellect here.

  17. Mark for the record, can you answer the question on how many days a week you spend in the Scottish Highlands?

    I’m imagining it is a considerable amount over the year to be so well informed, correct?

  18. So Mark, we are coming up to the busy time on the moors, lots of waders, grouse, lambs, the threatened Capercaillies and the black game all trying to breed and survive, and then we have the 100’s of members of the public welcomed into the Highlands throughout the spring and summer, often bringing children and the family dog with them. We all have heard about the new tick borne disease http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35815813

    The blue hares are carriers of these ticks so I’m sure you can see the bigger picture, and by culling a few out of 1000’s we can do some limitation of them spreading ticks!

    1. Andy – ah, I see. What’s your postal address then? Because apparently your views aren’t worth anything unless you spend lots of time in the Scottish Highlands? You are based in the Scottish Highlands, Essex I see?? And your educational qualifications and blood lead level please?

      Do you have a point? Honestly? I’ll check tomorrow morning so have a really good think about it.

      PS Should I phone the Edinburgh or the Glasgow number to get more of your in-depth experience?

  19. I’m glad you value my views so much to bother to research me to that extent, but I’m not in Essex, live within 20 minutes of the Highlands, I eat game and drink beer which also contains lead at a higher level than game, so lead levels probably the same as yours. As for all the animals required to be killed to produce vegetables for veggies and vegans from the pesticides killing insects and bees to the Mammals to the pigeons, rooks and geese, eating meat is actually better to the indigenous wildlife. Except farmed meat is pumped full of antibiotics and steroids! Unlike game and venison.
    If you wish to call me feel free either number diverts to my mobile at the weekends!

Comments are closed.