There is no evidence to substantiate the claim that “hundreds of thousands” of hares are killed during their breeding season each year (Farmers and gamekeepers hit by ban on hare shooting, 18 March). Hares can cause serious crop damage occasionally requiring farmers to control individuals. Decades of our research have shown this has no measurable effect on the overall population, whereas loss of habitat and fox predation have a profound effect. There is a real danger that the proposed introduction of a closed season will result in farmers having to anticipate, in advance, the unpredictable level of crop damage likely to occur and take pre-emptive action during the open season. Couple this with the upsurge in illegal hare coursing and we will have created a bleak prospect for the conservation status of this treasured species.
Dr Alastair Leake
Director of Policy
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust