Mountain hare ‘decline’ not black and white - our letter to BBC Wildlife

In the March issue of BBC Wildlife, Ben Hoare claims that ‘controversial culls of mountain hares in the Scotland Highlands … have led to drastic population declines’. The evidence to support this claim is inconclusive. In fact, recent studies show not only that there are stable numbers of hares, but that they are more abundant on grouse moors.

A GWCT paper studying data up to 2017 found that indicators of mountain hare abundance suggest numbers are up to 35 times higher on areas managed for driven grouse shooting, compared to either walked-up grouse moors or those which are not managed for shooting at all. Whilst hares are shot on some estates, grouse moor management offers increased food supply for hares through management of heather, as well as predator control which can reduce the risk of predation.

James Swyer
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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Mountain Hare declined

at 12:45 on 24/03/2020 by Bacca Flyaway

The situation remains unchanged as I see it. It as always been the case that managed moorland supported the greatest numbers of Blue/Mountain Hare, certainly within my life time. It has also always been the case, that's people with an agenda would ignore this fact. When taking a broader view, and not merely focusing on one area or more in particular, I have never seen any evidence to suggest that the total population has altered a great deal at any time in the last 30 years.

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