Since NatureScot approved the methodology for night-time counting of mountain hares in 2018, GWCT has led training and guidance of moorland keepers in recording that is vital for understanding conservation status. Equally, other research work we have been involved with points to concerns about range contraction and the impact of changes in land management. Understanding what is happening in areas away from the mountain hare’s heartland is just as important in assessing what is happening.
NatureScot has been keen to expand counting activity, and following additional research, has spearheaded the development of a national monitoring scheme. This has now been officially launched and you can find out more about the project here.
The GWCT has been involved in this additional project along with James Hutton Institute, British Trust for Ornithology, the Mammal Society and of course, NatureScot. We recognise that the night-time counting approach used principally on managed moorland is not suitable or even advisable in other areas of Scotland, particularly for reasons of safety. The GWCT’s main contribution to this initiative will be to run specific night-time counts that afford comparison with the day-time approaches which the national scheme will promote. It will be important to contrast the methods and recognise any differences so that these can be taken into account in assessment of the mountain hare’s conservation status. With a seat at the project table, we can play our part in that discussion.