As the Scottish Parliament prepares for tomorrows debate on amendments to the Animal and Wildlife Penalties Bill, rural organisations appeal to MSPs to think twice before introducing legislation to ban Mountain Hare Control.
Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone lodged an amendment to the Animals and Wildlife Bill. If supported, the amendment would make mountain hares a protected species, effectively ending managed control. The Lothians MSP who also has a proposed member’s bill to end the killing of the hares and foxes, seeks to introduce the protections sooner in stage 3 of the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill.
Scottish Countryside Alliance Director Jamie Stewart said: “Claims that ‘controversial culls of mountain hares in the Scotland have led to drastic population declines’ may well make good reading in press releases but is far from conclusive. In fact, recent studies show not only that there are stable numbers of hares, but that they are actually more abundant on grouse moors”. Rather than calling for the cessation on managed moors, Mss Johnstone should perhaps back research into the lack of mountain hares on unmanaged moorland across Scotland.
The Greens have proposed a last minute amendment to the Scottish Government Animal and Wildlife Penalties Bill, which would see mountain hare control outlawed. This is purely ideologically motivated political nonsense without any scientific or practical on-the-ground substance.
In particular, we are concerned that the tabled amendment does nothing to address the main issue; why mountain hare numbers have fallen in poorly managed areas where they once thrived. Instead, the amendment threatens hare numbers in well-managed areas where they currently flourish.
A joint statement from BASC, SACS, Countryside Alliance, SGA and Scottish Land & Estates is available here.