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Mountain hare day of action – invitation to mass lobby of the Scottish Parliament

Scotland’s mountain hare are culled in huge numbers on grouse moors, even in our National Parks. OneKind are asking supporters to join forces on the 17th November 2016 to call on the Scottish Government to end the culls.

In one year, as many as 25,000 mountain hares were killed in Scotland. Why? For blood sports and the unfounded belief that their eradication could mean more red grouse to shoot. OneKind are calling on the Scottish Government to urgently introduce greater protections for the mountain hare, starting with a complete ban of culls and driven hunts in our National Parks. The Scottish Government has the powers to do this tomorrow – we just need to put the pressure on to make it happen!

Show you care for the mountain hare: join OneKind on the 17th of November at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh for a mass lobby against mountain hare culling. They will be rallying in front of Parliament at 12:00. Join the team for a fun and worthwhile afternoon speaking up for Scotland’s embattered wildlife.

When?

Thursday 17 November from 12 -2PM or for as long as you can spare.

Where?

In front of the Scottish Parliament in central Edinburgh.

What?

This will be a small, fun and good-natured event that will send a powerful signal to our elected representatives that they must take action and end the killing. The group will gather at 12:00 for a media photocall and rally, when you will hear from MSPs on what they think should be done about the culls, and leading mountain hare advocates. OneKind have invited all MSPs to drop by and meet us at any time between 12:30 and 2:00 to receive a special present and, if they wish, to show their support for the campaign. Please invite your MSP to come along by signing this e-action.

What do I do next?

Let OneKind know you’re coming by signing up here. This gives them an idea of numbers and once you’ve signed up they will email you more information about the day.

You can also find out more about the campaign and sign OneKind’s petition here.

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Call for greater protection of mountain hare as shooting season begins

An animal charity is calling for greater protection of the mountain hare as the 2016/17 open season begins.

LEPUS TIMIDUS

OneKind said the creature is “routinely” targeted by shooting parties and gamekeepers, with tens of thousands being killed every year.

Scottish wildlife charities, including the RSPB and Scottish Wildlife Trust, have called on the Scottish Government to impose a three-year ban on all mountain hare culling on grouse moors until safeguards are in place to that ensure killing is sustainable.

The Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Land and Estates and the Wildlife Conservation Trust have also called for “voluntary restraint” on large-scale culls, after one survey found 24,529 mountain hares were killed in Scotland between March 2006 and February 2007.

The risk of injury rather than a clean kill is heightened, meaning many shot hares will inevitably suffer

However, OneKind said this does not go far enough and is calling for the mountain hare to be completely protected from all forms of commercial hunting and culling.

Harry Huyton, the charity’s director, said: “OneKind wants to see complete protection of the mountain hare which would mean an end to culls and commercial hunting. The indiscriminate and ruthless killing of such an iconic species is wholly unacceptable.

“Shooting hare is notoriously challenging as they are small, fast moving animals and because the shooting takes place in an environment where plenty of cover is available the risk of injury rather than a clean kill is heightened, meaning many shot hares will inevitably suffer.”

The campaign has the backing of Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart.

He said: “Mountain hares are wonderful animals and they need our protection from being shot. As a vital part of the ecosystem and heritage of the Highlands, it is a tragedy that so many are needlessly killed each year.

“Hopefully OneKind’s campaign, which I fully support, will be able to raise awareness and win them the greater protection they need.”

Open season on the mountain hare – which is native to Scotland – runs from the first day of August until the last day of February.

Taken from: http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/call-for-greater-protection-of-mountain-hare-as-shooting-season-begins

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Residents describe horror of hare coursing blight on their community

The blood-thirsty sport of hare coursing takes place across Tayside, it has been claimed.

LEPUS TIMIDUS

Residents of Emmock Farm, north of Dundee, who did not wish to be identified, described multiple instances of hare coursing, and the gruesome remains.

Gangs of criminals engaging in the cruel act have repeatedly been spotted in the area. One local said he thought the culprits had walked their dogs from Kirkton and other areas to attack hares and other wildlife.

He said: “We know it’s happening because we see them; I saw someone out with binoculars the other day looking for hares with his dog. We find the bodies too, absolutely mutilated, it’s horrible. They course mainly for hares but once they were depleted they started going after roe deer and other wildlife.”

Practitioners of the brutal and banned bloodsport threaten local people who confront them.

Another resident said: “We’re scared to speak to them in case they find out where we live. A local farmer was told that if he called the police there would be repurcussions, and he recently had a quadbike stolen, we don’t know that it’s connected though. The police say unless they catch someone in the act there’s not much they can do.”

The Emmock Farm sightings follow similar reports of coursing taking place around Longforgan at the beginning of the month. PC Mark Stewart issued a warning after signs were found that the sport had taken place.

A van containing three dogs was seen on farmland near Invergowrie and police are appealing for witnesses.

The shocking sport involves training whippets and other sighthounds by getting them to chase, mutilate and, ultimately, kill hares. Banned since 2002, the practice is considered one of the most serious wildlife crimes.

Nonetheless, it continues to be a problem in Perthshire and Angus.

Groups travel from all over the country to the area’s farmland to send their greyhound and lurcher-type dogs hunting for a kill. Bets are taken, and any hares caught are torn apart before those responsible disappear, with the whole practice often lasting no more than 10 minutes.

Police wildlife and environmental crime officer Alan Stewart said, “Our message to those who are determined to ignore the law and chase hares with dogs is that police officers will use all powers at their disposal to tackle this illegal practice.

“The very fact that they are out searching for hares to course is sufficient evidence to prosecute. They are likely to be arrested and can expect a court appearance.”

As of earlier this year, anyone who is detected hare coursing can face a fine of £10,000 and also six months’ imprisonment.

Anyone with information about hare coursing should contact police.

Article taken from: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/dundee/residents-describe-horror-of-hare-coursing-blight-on-their-community-1.885445

 

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Call for three-year Scottish ban on hare culling

Wildlife charities have called on the Scottish Government to impose a three-year ban on mountain hare culling on grouse moors.

LEPUS TIMIDUS

The group of 10 organisations, including the RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, say the animals are now being culled on a large scale across Scotland.

They want the practice to be banned until safeguards are put in place to allow sustainable management of the species, and ensure international conservation obligations are being met.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said the call for a ban was “environmentally irresponsible”.

Mountain hares – which are often found on grouse moors and are an important source of prey for golden eagles – are protected under the EU’s Habitats Directive.

The organisations say culling has developed relatively recently “in the belief that it protects red grouse against the tick-borne louping ill virus, despite the lack of scientific evidence to support this claim”.

Duncan Orr-Ewing from RSPB Scotland, said: “Mountain hares in their white winter coats are one of the most iconic species in Scotland. At present very little is known about their current numbers and population trends.

“We also don’t know what impact these large scale culls are having on mountain hares’ wider conservation status which could mean that the Scottish Government may be in breach of its legally binding international EU obligations to this species.”

In December 2014, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced the beginning of a three year study to trial methods of measuring mountain hare numbers.

As part of this, SNH called for a voluntary restraint of large scale culls on grouse moors.

Simon Jones from the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Mountain hares are important to Scotland both culturally and from a conservation perspective. We, along with the other organisations are calling for a three year ban, to allow time for all those involved to take stock of the longer term impacts of large scale culling.

“Once the results of the study have been published we will then be able to identify the best ways to monitor mountain hare populations and measure the impact that management is having on their conservation status.

“We believe that grouse moor managers have a duty of care to these important mountain hare populations. The unregulated and seemingly unsustainable culling that is endemic on many grouse moors is a threat to these important populations.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association said: “Allowing hare numbers to multiply uncontrolled over three years, as suggested, will have huge grazing impacts, including around forestry blocks, where culling currently takes place.

“The numbers of tick, already a growing problem in the countryside, will escalate, endangering any bird that nests on the ground, not to mention the potential repercussions for human health. It will be bad for birds and bad for biodiversity.

“The truth is that, away from managed grouse moors, mountain hare populations are at nothing higher than subsistence level yet groups asking for this measure have the power to change this today by introducing management regimes, on their own ground, to benefit hares. Why this is not done is the question which should be asked at the highest level.”