Gamekeepers have offered £1000 to conservation groups, if these groups can show their management produces more mountain hares than grouse moors.
The reward is being extended to all ten conservation groups who yesterday made headlines by calling for a three year ban on the culling of mountain hares.
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, the group making the reward offer, said: “If the conservation groups have real and genuine concern about the iconic mountain hare, we are confused as to why they provide very little management to benefit mountain hares on the ground managed by themselves.
“By adopting proper heather management, they could have the same numbers of mountain hares on their ground as are presently found on grouse moors, yet this is not done.
“Instead an inaccurate image is painted that mountain hares are endangered because of activity on grouse moors when the largest elephant in the room is why conservationists have very few mountain hares themselves and do not manage their own ground to benefit them.
“We, therefore, are happy to offer a £1000 reward to any of these groups who can prove that they can come close to producing the numbers of hares that are prevalent on grouse moors, even after gamekeepers have undertaken their controlled annual cull.
“This is not a step we would normally take in any other circumstance. £1000 is an awful lot of money to gamekeepers. However, we feel strongly the public are being fed misleading information on this issue and we look forward, when the new system of counting is operational, to go to the ground managed by these ten groups to see exactly how the hare populations are doing in comparison and assessing the results."