Following last week’s Out of Doors programme on BBC Radio Scotland, which included an unchallenged interview with Dr Adam Smith of the GWCT who was trying very hard to justify mountain hare culls on grouse moors – see here [comment #8], we were pleased to hear the subject raised again on this week’s show, this time with someone with an opposing view.
It’s a good, well-rounded interview. Whilst he recognises that there may, in some instances, be a requirement for local culling (to protect young trees), he doesn’t buy into the argument that the widespread mass culling of hares is beneficial for controlling disease in red grouse and he describes the eradication of mountain hares in eastern and southern Scotland [on grouse moors] as “disgraceful”.
He talks about the sustainable hare population on one Highland sporting estate where he has been providing ecological advice for a number of years (proabably Coignafearn Estate – one of the few that doesn’t kill hares – see here) and welcomes SNH’s call for land managers to exercise ‘voluntary restraint’, although he thinks SNH struggled to get that through against opposition from landowners and GWCT. Roy’s own recommendation to SNH and the Government had been for a voluntary two-year moratorium on all mountain hare culling, allowing time for an assessment of the species’ conservation status and the impact of long-term, widespread culls.
Roy doesn’t agree with the calls for a ban on the shooting of mountain hares. Others disagree and a petition has been launched, calling for exactly that. See here.
Roy’s interview can be heard here for another month. [Starts at 16:04]
The photograph shows Roy with young golden eagle ‘Alma’, hatched on the Glenfeshie Estate in 2007 and satellite-tracked by Roy. She was found dead on the Millden Estate two years later. She’d been poisoned.