Trust welcomes Holyrood vote to protect mountain hares

Scottish Parliament backs amendment to Animals and Wildlife Bill that will make mountain hares a protected species

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On Wednesday 17 June, the Scottish Parliament voted by 90 votes to 16 to accept an amendment from Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone to the Animals and Wildlife Bill that would effectively end the recreational killing of mountain hares on Scotland’s grouse moors.

During the debate, the Scottish rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon accepted an amendment making it an offence to kill mountain hares without a licence. She warned, however, that it may take time to change the rules. 

"I intend to discuss that in detail with stakeholders over the coming months, as part of a proper consultation process," she said. "Control of their numbers would need to be done under licence all year round, for permitted purposes, such as preventing serious agricultural damage." 

She added that this "strikes an appropriate balance between the interests of those involved in land management and protecting an iconic Scottish species".

Among other things the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill will increase penalties for animal and wildlife crime and extend the time allowed for prosecutions.

In the run-up to the debate, the Trust urged MSPs to support the amendment and provide long-overdue protection to this iconic upland species. 

Image of Mountain Hare by Mark Hamblin