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PRESS RELEASE - MAJOR DEVELOPMENT IN MOUNTAIN HARE COUNTS

Land managers in Scotland have taken a major step forward in the establishment of an evidence-based approach to counting and recording data on mountain hare populations, it was announced today.

PRESS RELEASE - MAJOR DEVELOPMENT IN MOUNTAIN HARE COUNTS

New training methods and innovative technology will enable conservation bodies to record and assess hare populations and give more sophisticated advice on sustainable hare management.

Increased surveying of hare populations will also contribute to a better understanding of the overall conservation status of mountain hares.

The sites surveyed under the new methodology have recorded encouraging numbers of hares on areas managed for driven grouse shooting, which is consistent with previous research.

ln a joint sector statement today via the RELM alliance, The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Land & Estates, the Scottish Association for Country Sports and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said the developments are a game-changer in tackling a controversial issue.

The new two-pronged approach to counting means that gamekeepers and land managers are all using a consistent counting methodology and are able to record real-time population data on an innovative app.

Its development follows the introduction of a new night-time mountain hare counting method which has been established by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), James Hutton Institute and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT). Mountain hares are usually most active just after sunset.

It is believed that the total current mountain hare population in Scotland stands at approximately 135,000, most of which are found on driven grouse moors. On managed grouse moors, mountain hare populations are up to 35 times higher than on unmanaged moors.

David Johnstone, Chairman of Scottish Land and Estates, said:

“The fact that we have an agreed method of gathering the data and a more effective way to record the data instantly and share reporting with others is a game changer in our approach. The key priority is to have hares in good conservation status and the results so far from driven grouse moors are very encouraging."

About RELM

Rural Environment Land Management is an informal alliance of Scottish rural organisations. These are - The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Land & Estates, the Scottish Association for Country Sports, The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.