Two men have been charged with laying snares to trap mountain hares on the Purdey Award-winning Lochindorb Estate, according to the BBC (see here) and STV (see here) websites. David Taylor and Kevin Begg are alleged to have used 24 snares on April 19th but both deny setting the traps, according to the website reports, and their three day trial will begin on 28th March 2012 at Inverness Sheriff Court.
It is not illegal to kill mountain hares by shooting them, but it may be illegal to use an indiscriminate trap (e.g. a snare) to kill them unless the snare operator has a specific SNH licence to do so (see SNH wildlife law leaflet here, and SGA Snaring Practioners Guide 2010 here). The new Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, once commenced, also introduces a new closed season for mountain hares (1 March – 31 July inclusive).
Lochindorb Estate was the joint winner of the 2008 Purdey Gold Award for game and conservation management (see here). The industry’s top honour was awarded for imaginative conservation to improve habitat for both reared and wild game birds (Purdey Awards website here).
Lochindorb was in the news earlier this year when it was reported that a dead white-tailed eagle had been discovered on the estate. By the time the police arrived to investigate, the dead eagle had ‘disappeared’. The police were unable to determine how the bird died as they did not have a body to examine (see here and here).
According to the STV report, Lochindorb was owned by Alasdair Laing (GWCT’s Scottish Committee Chairman) at the time of the alleged snaring offence but has since ‘sold the estate on’.