Wednesday, 10 June 2020

FULL PROTECTION FOR MOUNTAIN HARES: SGA RESPONSE

Image courtesy of SNH
Today, Green MSP Alison Johnstone lodged an amendment to the Animals and Wildlife Bill at Stage 3 requesting that mountain hares be given full legal protection.
The amendment, and others, will be debated at Holyrood next Wednesday (June 17th). The SGA will provide briefings for politicians ahead of that debate.
Commenting on the proposals today,

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: “The Werritty review of grouse moor management looked at the issue of mountain hares in depth and Scottish Government is due to respond to that report in due course.
“That is where this issue should be looked at, not thrown late into a Bill as a piece of political opportunism.
“Since seasons were brought in for mountain hares, all licences granted for culling have been given out by SNH to protect young trees. As the Green party demands more tree planting to counter climate change, it will be interesting to see how Alison Johnstone intends to protect saplings from mountain hares. She has certainly made a very forceful and compelling case for fenced forestry schemes running across upland Scotland.
“Mountain hares are controlled, in season, to protect trees and fragile habitats, to prevent disease and to manage tick populations which also have implications for human health.
“A great deal has been done by gamekeepers and estates to put into place new scientifically tested counting methodologies so that control measures are proportionate. That is the way forward and very few, if any, conservation bodies have followed suit which is perhaps telling. Complete protection will not address the key issue facing the species in Scotland today: their spiralling decline away from grouse moors which have maintained their habitats for centuries while still managing population levels.”


Gamekeepers learning how to practically apply the new counting methods (see SNH paper below). Conservation charities, many of whom have campaigned on the issue, are yet to take such a rigorous approach to counting.
*Members who feel strongly on this issue should also contact their MSPs. Your practical experience of wildlife management should be heard on these and other issues and we encourage you to communicate that practical knowledge to those who will participate in the debate. By entering your postcode into the 'Find MSPs' box in this link, you can find out how to contact your local MSP. https://www.parliament.scot/msps.aspx