Mass lobby at Scottish Parliament to protect mountain hares

Alison Johnstone MSP.

Alison Johnstone MSP.

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The Scottish Parliament is to be lobbied on Thursday, November 17, by members of the public who want to see an end to culling and hunting of Scotland’s iconic mountain hare.

The mass lobby has been organised by OneKind, the Scottish animal campaigns charity in support of greater protections for the mountain hare which are currently subjected to unacceptable levels of persecution.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone, Species Champion for the hare, said: “The reports we’ve heard of mass culls of mountain hares, and the photos we’ve seen are deeply disturbing. The commercial interests of large sporting estates must not be allowed to trample over the conservation of highly valued wildlife.

“I hope Thursday’s rally outside Parliament helps put pressure on the Scottish Government to introduce greater protection for mountain hares, starting with a ban on culls in National Parks. To date the Government’s agency, SNH, has been ineffective in challenging applications for culls. The evidence is clear that culling hares does nothing to help the environment; it’s simply about an industry trying to maximise profits.”

Despite legal provisions that give the species conservation status, hare are regularly culled or commercially hunted in Scotland, even within our national parks. As this persecution is not licensed and is carried out with no regulatory oversight it is impossible to know how many are killed. The only estimate is that 25,000 were killed in 2006/7, which is thought to be between 5-14% of the total population. As well having a potentially significant impact on their population, there are serious welfare concerns because of the scale and nature of the killing.

Harry Huyton added: “The mountain hare is an iconic species in Scotland and the scale of persecution these creatures are subjected to is needless and completely inexcusable.

“OneKind is calling on the Scottish Government to provide more stringent protection for hares as an urgent priority, starting with a complete ban on hunting and culling in national parks.

“We hope politicians from all parties will attend the mass lobby on Thursday to hear the arguments in favour of greater protection of the hare and listen to their constituents views on this important animal welfare issue.”

OneKind will be joined by members of the public opposed to hunting and culling mountain hare on Thursday, November 17, from 12noon. Alison Johnstone MSP, species champion for the hare and David Stewart MSP for the Highlands and Islands will speak at the event.