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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-14021: Colin Smyth (South Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 23 January 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what efforts it has made to prevent large-scale culls of mountain hares this winter.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 1 February 2018

The Scottish Government opposes large-scale culls of mountain hares. There is no current evidence to indicate that large scale culls are taking place but if evidence emerges that points to large-scale culls taking place that could cause significant population declines, locally or nationally, the Scottish Government will consider bringing forward further measures to protect mountain hares. This could include the use of Nature Conservation Orders or giving mountain hares further protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.   Recent analyses of available data by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) provides no evidence of a national decline in mountain hares. Data from the North East of Scotland suggests there may be local population declines but these are not reflected at a national scale.   On 26 January, SNH published a commissioned report on ‘Developing a counting methodology for mountain hares (Lepus timidus) in Scotland’. https://www.nature.scot/snh-commissioned-report-1022-developing-counting-methodology-mountain-hares-lepus-timidus-scotland .   Adoption of the recommended counting methodology by land managers will help in developing a better understanding of mountain hare population cycles and trends.