Balmoral challenged over Mountain Hare cull

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As a follow-up to last weekend’s story about Mountain Hare culls in the Cairngorms National Park (you may have read it here first) Rob Edwards writes in today’s Glasgow Herald of the role of the Queen’s highland estate.  Mass culls of Mountain Hares have, it seems, been undertaken at Delnadamph – part of the Balmoral Estate.

Hares_Lecht_25Feb2016 - Copy (2)A long line of people were queuing up to express concern or anger at the large-scale Mountain Hare culls on grouse moors in today’s Herald but Tim Baynes, of Scottish Land and Estates, said, basically, ‘We’re allowed to, and so we are going to’.

Balmoral does not, to the best of my knowledge, have richer wildlife than the surrounding grouse moor estates.  No doubt it is suffering a lack of birds of prey, such as Hen Harriers, because of the widespread illegal persecution in the eastern highlands, including in the Cairngorms National Park, but culling Mountain Hares, or not, is a decision which will be up to individual landowners.

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This last week has been Scottish Tourism Week – its Twitter hashtag, #stw2016, appears to have a lot of pictures of dead Mountain Hares, poisoned eagles and trapped buzzards attached to it.

Prince William is an active campaigner against illegal killing of threatened wildlife abroad, but is rather quiet on these issues at home.

Prince Charles is thought not to be a great fan of birds of prey (see, for example, pp284-5 of Fighting for Birds) and is definitely a fan of targetted predator control.

Prince Philip is Patron of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Many are looking to the Royal Family to make their position as landowners completely clear on the illegal killing of birds of prey and the issue of grouse shooting and its impacts on the environment.  At the moment, there is little evidence that our Royal Family has a particularly modern or enlightened view on these matters, but only they can say.


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8 Replies to “Balmoral challenged over Mountain Hare cull”

  1. What a shame for Scotland - and what a shame when wildlife like Sea Eagles that draws people to Scotland to the tune of millions of pounds a year continues to be slaughtered illegally.

  2. Today is International Day of Happiness, and I’ve even posted about it on my own blog, but I’m not feeling too happy at the moment after reading this post – really since first finding out about the Cairngorm hares. And finding out that it’s not an irregular occurrence, even if not usually on such a scale.

    I know I don’t know all the recommendations and laws about which living creatures landowners should, or shouldn’t kill, but it seems to me whether it’s recommended or not, or even illegal or not, is hardly relevant to some people.

    I know I don’t know all the science about which living creatures might be killed – I suppose here I should use the euphemism ‘culled’ - for wider conservation purposes. Deer as an example: I hate the shooting – however ‘humanely’ – of a fit wild animal, though I sort of appreciate the reasons why it’s done. (Though surely Prince William can’t be right about it being ok in some circumstances to trophy kill?). See

    I know also it’s not helpful to be over-emotional or anthropomorphic about animals. I know the ‘cute and fluffy’ brigade can be irritating, and not help the cause, and extreme animal rights people can cause new problems for the environment.

    And what about me? I never knowingly kill anything, yet I eat fish and chicken and very occasionally red meat - though only when I know its provenance – and I am increasingly struggling with this. The shooting of the hares has left me considering, and re-considering many animal related issues.

    I feel as if I’m in the middle of a moral dilemma right now.

    1. Daphne - thank you for a very interesting and moving comment.

      Yep, we're all, if we think about it, torn. Keep thinking and try to do a little bit better every day. that's what i try to do. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the better. And we'll none of us be perfect, ever. And it is also pretty difficult to know what perfect is sometimes.

      Thank you.

    2. With controversies like hare culling, it seems vital to keep the ecological and ethical arguments separate. One is based on relatively straightforward science while the other is confounded by tricky moral inconsistencies which tend to inhabit the majority of us.
      So should we duck the ethical question?
      No -- provided we demonstrate honesty in the way you have done. In fact, your self-doubt and mental discomfort are a counter to hubris and self-righteousness. Their absence allows for a much more effective debate.

    3. The 'cute and fluffy' brigade and animal rights people I know are extremely supportive of this campaigning and are actively promoting the petitions.

      And what is wrong with emotion or anthropomorphism if it helps us to feel compassion and try to understand how other animals feel? That inspires us to work to defend them.

      They are not that different from us anyway - it just suits many of us to think they are, so that we can exploit them more efficiently.

  3. I saw on the news yesterday, that Prince Harry is in 'Tiger country' supporting conservation efforts for this animal. I thought to myself ' yes, they do need help, but wouldn't it be the right and proper thing for someone in his position to support our native British wildlife, such as the Hen Harrier?' Surely he, and others in the family, are not 2-faced, just backing animals that won't affect their street-cred with their mates?


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