Press release from OneKind:
OneKind, Scotland’s animal campaigns charity, will release a new report on the persecution of mountain hares in Scotland on Monday 31 July, a day before the open season on mountain hare killing begins.
The report titled Mountain hare persecution in Scotland exposes the scale of mountain hare killing for recreational purposes in Scotland.
Mountain hare shooting is one of many country sports offered by Scottish game estates, and grouse moor managers also organise culls of the animals in an effort to protect red grouse for sport shooting. The report names 25 companies that offer mountain hare shooting in Scotland, eight of which are promoted by the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG). The SCSTG website lists Government agencies, Visit Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), as partner organisations.
One company, Mirani hunting, uses an image of hunters standing by the carcasses of dozens of hares to promote their services on VisitScotland.org. Another, Balavil estate, boasts that they kill upwards of 2,000 hares in a shooting season.
The report also highlights two grants SCSTG received worth £36,675 from VisitScotland in the last five years.
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.‘
‘I hope that Visit Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage share our surprise and displeasure with what we have revealed in our report. It’s simply not appropriate for Government agencies to actively promote the large-scale recreational killing of native wildlife, and I am writing to both agencies today to ask them to remove their endorsement of the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group and businesses that offer these services.‘.
Mountain hare killing is not monitored in Scotland, however an estimate from an SNH study suggests that 25,000 mountain hares were killed in 2006/7. This is understood to be between 5-14% of the total population. It is thought that approximately 40% of those killed are shot for sport shooting, and 50% as part of organised culls.
The report lays out a series of recommendations including the introduction of complete protection of mountain hares within Scotland’s national parks, prohibiting mountain hare killing except under licence all year round, and strengthening and bringing transparency to the licensing arrangements.
More on the report later.