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Mountain hare facing ‘native extinction’ despite promises

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Mountain hares are facing declining numbers on some Scottish grouse moors

Mountain hare populations in some upland spaces face “local extinction” despite promises to give protection to their numbers, conservationists have warned.

Grouse capturing estates have in the past promised “voluntary restraint” to stay hare populations wholesome in spaces such because the Cairngorms.

But a coalition of environmental and outside organisations mentioned there was once proof that culls have been inflicting hurt.

It is asking for a ban on culling till right kind safeguards are in position.

Conservationists declare mountain hares are mechanically culled on a big scale throughout many grouse moors in Scotland.

They declare that during some spaces it’s been proven that the culls are resulting in serious inhabitants declines and probably even native extinctions.

‘Serious considerations’

Duncan Orr-Ewing from RSPB Scotland, mentioned ministers had an obligation to take care of mountain hare populations in a state of fine well being.

He mentioned: “The Scottish executive must do extra to safeguard those iconic species of our upland spaces.

“In 2014 we had severe considerations that the perception of voluntary restraint can be not noted by means of many within the grouse capturing business and, with the proof of culls proceeding on many moors over the past 3 years, it sort of feels that those fears had been neatly based.

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Moorland teams say there is not any proof that culls are responsible for the decline

“The start of the mountain hare season has already begun meaning hare populations will continue to be put at risk by unregulated culls that we believe, are resulting in localised disappearance of hare populations.”

He added: “We still do not know what impact these large scale culls are having on mountain hares’ wider conservation status and this could mean that the Scottish government may be in breach of its legally binding international obligations for this species.”

‘Beyond restoration’

Susan Davies, director of conservation on the Scottish Wildlife Trust, mentioned: “We imagine that grouse moor managers have a accountability for this vital local species.

“Lethal keep an eye on must be halted till there may be each correct data at the collection of hares culled, and the real impact of those culls at the well being of the hare inhabitants is understood.”

Alison Johnstone MSP mentioned: “The useless and unregulated culling of mountain hares on extensive grouse moors throughout Scotland is destructive populations of this species past restoration.

“I have previously asked the cabinet secretary to ban these culls, at the very least in our national parks and I support the call from these 10 organisations for the government to do more to safeguard populations of mountain hares and implement a moratorium on culls until work can be carried work to assure those concerned that any necessary mountain hare management can be sustainable.”

The coalition comprises: RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Raptor Study Group, Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, Cairngorms Campaign, National Trust for Scotland, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Mammal Society, John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Scotland.

Voluntary restraint

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) mentioned there was once no proof the decline in hare numbers was once confined to capturing estates.

A spokesman mentioned: “When the brand new steerage on very best methodologies to rely mountain hares is printed, the SGA can be asking Scottish executive to make sure hares are counted on all holdings, together with nature reserves and re-wilding spaces now not simply grouse moors, so the general public can in spite of everything get a clear image of the place hares are declining and why.

“Voluntary restraint is being exercised on grouse moors. Where hares are over-running, populations are being managed to stop illness and habitat injury.

“Where their numbers are lower, there is less or no need for management. It is the same with deer. In our view, that is what voluntary restraint is.”

Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, mentioned: “There is not any proof equipped by means of the 10 organisations to confirm claims that periodic culls are endangering mountain hare populations.

“In 2014, we issued a joint commentary with SNH which stated the desire for infrequent culls however recognised the requirement to take action responsibly. Culls vary from 14% to five% of hare populations in years when culls are performed, which is sustainable.”

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