Date lodged: 2 February 2018
To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the EU directive prohibiting “the use of all indiscriminate means capable of causing local disappearance of, or serious disturbance to, populations [of] species”, what assessment it has made of localised declines of mountain hares that has been reported by Scottish Natural Heritage, including the impact this has on the conservation status of predator species, such as the golden eagle.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 1 March 2018
The available long term data does not suggest a national decline in the mountain hare population, but there is evidence from north east Scotland of declines on some managed grouse moors. In order to assess the current population trend on these sites and provide better information on the Scottish mountain hare population at a local, regional and national level, a new monitoring scheme is being developed based on the counting method recommended in the recently published SNH Commissioned Report 1022.
The intention is to implement the new scheme on selected sites in the autumn of 2018, followed by more widespread coverage from 2019 onwards. The data generated from this monitoring scheme will provide better information on hare populations, which can then be used for various purposes including investigating relationships with predator species such as golden eagles .