Environmental journalist Rob Edwards has published a disturbing article today about the mass slaughter of between 1,500-1,700 mountain hares by landowners in the Lammermuir Hills (see here).
This industrial-scale killing of mountain hares is not restricted to grouse moors in the Lammermuirs. Last year we blogged about the scale of the killing on grouse moors in Aberdeenshire (see here) and also the Angus Glens (see here).
We encouraged blog readers to write to SNH to question them about their long-term failure to implement an effective monitoring scheme to help protect what is known to be a species under threat. They responded by saying they did not support “indiscriminate, large scale culls” of mountain hares but it was hard for them to regulate the practice because they hadn’t yet worked out how to count mountain hares and thus couldn’t say if these indiscriminate, large-scale culls were affecting the population as a whole (see here).
MSP Alison Johnstone (Lothian, Scottish Green Party) lodged a number of parliamentary questions asking the Government to state how it controls mountain hare culling and what conservation action was planned to protect the species. Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse responded by saying that SNH is still issuing licences to allow the killing of mountain hares outside of the closed season, and that SNH was still trying to figure out how to count mountain hares so the effect of the culls could be measured (see here).
One year on and the unregulated massacre continues.
In Rob Edwards’ latest article, a Scottish Government official said: “We do have concerns about the intensification of management on some driven grouse moors, especially if it is associated with unlawful activity“.
The article also says that SNH has the issue under review and a report is expected in December. We’ll be watching with great interest.