Mountain hare open season set to go ahead, says BASC

BASC is expecting the retention of an open season for mountain hares this year as the Scottish Government continue to discuss a licensing scheme for their control.

The open season for mountain hares is expected to start, as usual, on 1 August in Scotland.

BASC Scotland Director, Dr Colin Shedden, said: “It is entirely appropriate for the mountain hare open season to continue until a workable licensing scheme comes into force. The amendment was rushed through without adequate scrutiny, and it will now take time to design a licensing scheme which will allow management to continue in a practicable way.

“High density populations of hares are associated with well-managed moorland and, to prevent damage, it is important for land managers to have the ability to control them, just as they need to manage other herbivores such as deer. Like other managed species, hares are an important but often undervalued food resource.”

The Scottish Parliament voted to abolish the open season following a late amendment to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill, tabled in the name of Scottish Green Party MSP, Alison Johnstone. 

The move attracted criticism from across the chamber, with numerous MSPs accusing Ms Johnstone of avoiding proper parliamentary scrutiny by tabling the amendment during stage 3 – the final stage before a bill becomes law.

Dr Shedden said: “We are extremely concerned about the way in which Ms Johnstone avoided scrutiny to appease party-political views. The delay in protecting the mountain hare is a direct consequence of the Green Party’s actions within the chamber.” 

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