Hare numbers

I read with interest your piece on mountain hares on (14) April that stated ten “conservation” bodies have asked for a three-year ban on the culling of mountain hares on areas managed for grouse shooting because of a lack of scientific information on the impact these culls were having.

As a keeper living and working in the uplands for more than 20 years I have been involved in the sustainable management of mountain hares and agree with the comment from Scottish Natural Heritage that the hare population is cyclical.

The point being missed is that mountain hares are more abundant on areas managed for grouse shooting because good predator control measures are in place.

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Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust science has already proved that breeding success of all moorland birds is four times more productive where predator control is taking place and it is the same for mountain hares.

In addition, culls do not take place annually – like grouse they are only undertaken when there is a sustainable number.

This attempt to criticise a well-established practice that has maintained a healthy mountain hare population on grouse moors for many years seems like just another ill-informed swipe at grouse moor management.

Perhaps some of the ten organisations that signed up to this should practise some predator control on their own land and measure the fourfold effect it would have on biodiversity.

Ian Elliot

Upland Keeper on the 
Lammermuir Hills

Gifford, East Lothian

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