Animal rights campaigners have welcomed new legislation which will protect thousands of animals from being slaughtered
The news that politicians have voted to protect mountain hares has been welcomed by animal rights campaigners.
An amendment to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill to protect the species was passed this week. The amendment, tabled by Green MSP Alison Johnstone at Stage 3, was voted for yesterday (Wednesday 18 June) in the Scottish Parliament, gaining 60 votes for and 19 against.
Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform has supported the amendment which will offer protected status to mountain hares, ending recreational killing and mass culling of the iconic species. Scottish Government figures show that on average 26,000 are killed every year on grouse shooting estates, and last year their conservation status was downgraded to ‘unfavourable’ due to declining numbers.
Campaign manager for Revive, Max Wiszniewski, said: “Iconic mountain hares are in decline and only legal protection will prevent their numbers falling. Today common sense has prevailed and the Scottish Parliament has voted overwhelming to pass this amendment.
“There is a circle of destruction that surrounds grouse moors and this includes the mass killing of the iconic mountain hare. The intensive management of grouse moors in Scotland, it would seem, stops at nothing to maintain the land for a single species no matter what impact that has on wider ecology.”
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, added: "This amendment offers legal protection to one of Scotland’s most iconic species and we’re obviously delighted the Scottish Parliament has voted in its favour. Mountain hares are subjected to the most appalling cruelty and are one of a number of species eradicated on an industrial scale to ensure grouse numbers are kept unnaturally high for sport shooting.
“Today’s outcome is a real victory for animal welfare and the league is grateful to Alison Johnstone for bringing this important issue back onto the political agenda.”
OneKind director Bob Elliot said: “This is a triumph for one of the Scottish Parliament’s hare champions, Alison Johnstone, and also underlines the willingness of a minister to listen to public opinion on the status of this cherished species. As soon as it became possible for Alison to lodge her amendment, the upsurge in public support has been momentous. OneKind is delighted to have been part of this and to see a successful conclusion to one of our most heartfelt campaigns to end the mass scale mountain hare killings.
“Different reasons given by the grouse shooting industry for the supposed need to control mountain hares, such as the prevention of louping ill, a disease carried by ticks, have been successively discounted, and animal welfare has taken precedence.”
Johnstone said: “I’m delighted the Scottish Government has finally given in to pressure to protect this iconic native species. This has come about because of the overwhelming public support for my amendment, for which I am very grateful.”