I am writing after seeing the letter (25 March) from the RSPB’s Duncan Orr Ewing. I don’t believe that the RSPB has any evidence to support the claim that hare numbers are not thriving currently.
If it does, I would like to see them published, along with their own estimated hare population at the RSPB Abernethy reserve.
It would be interesting to compare the difference in population at Abernethy with managed grouse moors, where mountain hares are culled.
I am a head keeper on a large estate in the Angus glens. Three years ago we had a reasonable spread of hares throughout the whole estate, some localised areas having a much higher density.
Back then we never culled any hares as we never thought it was sustainable. Over the past two years the population has grown considerably. I regularly see large groups of hares sheltering from the prevailing winds, underneath snow cornices or in peat hags, not to mention how many are likely to be in the burrows or in thick beds of heather.
On the estate where I work we look at hare numbers annually. If we think there is a surplus we will cull some hares.
This is always a sporting cull, which has wider benefits to the local community, filling hotel rooms during winter months and providing casual labour for the people who help on the shoot days.
I completely agree with the need for sustainable populations and also agree with culling mountain hares when there are high densities. In Scotland, where we have grazing pressures from red deer, sheep and mountain hares it is important to keep a balance.