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Rushed Scottish Mountain Hare amendment could do more harm than good

Despite a barrage of complaints from Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) across the debating chamber, the amendment lodged by Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone to the Animals and Wildlife Bill seeking to introduce a licensing system for the control of Mountain Hares, was passed.

MSPs including Stuart Stevenson (SNP) Mike Rumbles (Liberal Democrats) and Edward Mountain (Scottish Conservatives) called in to question the members integrity and tactics used in introducing an amendment to the Bill at stage 3.

It was clear from proceedings that MSPs were most perturbed in the lack of ability to examine the amendment in any meaningful way. All were in agreeance that this was not the way to make "good law".

Rural Affairs and Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon held short on supporting the immediate introduction of a licence making mountain hares a protected species. Instead the Minister indicated further consultation with stakeholders across the sector to ensure the ability to control Mountain Hares where justifiable.

Scottish Countryside Alliance Director Jamie Stewart said: "The introduction of a licence will do 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. This is purely ideologically motivated political nonsense without any scientific or practical on-the-ground substance."

An earlier joint statement from BASC, SACS, Countryside Alliance, SGA and Scottish Land & Estates is available here.

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