A new code of practice for the management of brown hare populations in England has been published. It is designed to ensure that a sustainable population of hares is achieved but also to allow humane control when they become a serious agricultural pest.

The new code has been written by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).  It is supported by the Tenant Farmers’ Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Moorland Association, the Country Land and Business Association and the Countryside Alliance.

Hare populations vary across the country. In some areas numbers are low, largely due to poor habitat and predation. In other areas numbers are so high that hares cause significant damage to crops.

The code explains the law and provides advice on best practice for ensuring an appropriate, workable balance between the conservation of hares, their status as game and their ability to cause serious damage to crops.

It sets out statutory and voluntary measures to address a wide range of circumstances and needs.

Mike Swan, head of education at the GWCT, said: “The GWCT has been at the forefront of research on hares for over 20 years and managed to achieve a ten-fold population increase on its own research farm over three years. We welcome this new code for brown hare management. The hare is a wonderful animal and this advice reconciles the needs of hare conservation and crop protection in a pragmatic, humane and flexible way.”

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gamekeeping, said: “Everyone wants to see a thriving hare population but in areas where conservation and conditions favour hares, they can become a threat to the production of food. This code sets out practical advice for humane control.”

The code can be viewed here.


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