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.
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust