Date lodged: 22 June 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the report in the Sunday Herald on 13 March 2015 regarding a mountain hare cull, and whether it considers that the reported incident is consistent with (a) its obligations under the habitats directive and (b) Scottish Natural Heritage's commitment to having a voluntary restraint on large culls that could jeopardise the conservation status of mountain hares.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 20 July 2016
Hare management requires to be undertaken in accordance with obligations under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended in Scotland) which implements the EU Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora in Scotland. This means hare populations must be managed sustainably and their management should also not compromise the conservation status of the species. Certain methods of killing or taking mountain hares are also prohibited, including any means which is indiscriminate and capable of causing the local disappearance of, or serious disturbance to a hare population.
Scottish Natural Heritage is working with Scottish Land & Estates to encourage estates to be more transparent about the reasons for culling hares and to encourage estates in the same area to collaborate and develop a more measured and coordinated approach to sustainable hare management. The intention is for additional information from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust National Gamebag Census to be made available in order to help inform these strategic decisions.