Mountain hares massacred on Lammermuir grouse moors

Environmental journalist Rob Edwards has published a disturbing article today about the mass slaughter of between 1,500-1,700 mountain hares by landowners in the Lammermuir Hills (see here).

This industrial-scale killing of mountain hares is not restricted to grouse moors in the Lammermuirs. Last year we blogged about the scale of the killing on grouse moors in Aberdeenshire (see here) and also the Angus Glens (see here).


We encouraged blog readers to write to SNH to question them about their long-term failure to implement an effective monitoring scheme to help protect what is known to be a species under threat. They responded by saying they did not support “indiscriminate, large scale culls” of mountain hares but it was hard for them to regulate the practice because they hadn’t yet worked out how to count mountain hares and thus couldn’t say if these indiscriminate, large-scale culls were affecting the population as a whole (see here).

MSP Alison Johnstone (Lothian, Scottish Green Party) lodged a number of parliamentary questions asking the Government to state how it controls mountain hare culling and what conservation action was planned to protect the species. Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse responded by saying that SNH is still issuing licences to allow the killing of mountain hares outside of the closed season, and that SNH was still trying to figure out how to count mountain hares so the effect of the culls could be measured (see here).

One year on and the unregulated massacre continues.

In Rob Edwards’ latest article, a Scottish Government official said: “We do have concerns about the intensification of management on some driven grouse moors, especially if it is associated with unlawful activity“.

The article also says that SNH has the issue under review and a report is expected in December. We’ll be watching with great interest.

21 thoughts on “Mountain hares massacred on Lammermuir grouse moors”

  1. Grouse Driven Moors only want one species on their land and that’s grouse. They are playing god with other wildlife, the way they manage the land is not natural and is not beneficial. Who eats grouse in the 21st century, but they are not doing it for food are they, they are doing it for sport. The shooters that kill legally for food, the odd duck, pigeon, rabbit etc do not impact on other wildlife and are being dragged down by these big Grouse Moor Estates. If they have the balls, they need to make a stand against these criminals as well. The GME’s are killing everything in sight, look at the pictures that were posted of the foxes, stoats etc, hung on fences. They are affecting the natural balance of nature. Ban is the only option, they would make far more money as a nature reserve and benefit the local community with tourists.

    1. This does not surprise me at all, I hope that that shot hares were sold and used for food,even pet food and not dumped in stink pits to attract more foxes to snare. Theres only a large surplus of hares, because their main predator mainly the fox has been severely dealt with, on the grouse moors.
      Some Estates in the North of England have had 1200 brace of grouse in a day this season, it seems the norm to have 800 brace a day, for 8 guns, that averages out at 200 birds each, which is too many, if you cant remember how many you’ve shot, or remember each bird then its too many, work that out at £90 a bird, its a fortune
      Surely theres enough ground and grouse to let a tiny few harriers get by and have a brood. Now that the grouse numbers are getting much better mainly because of medicated grit that’s put out for them, and the highs and lows of grouse numbers seem to have been ironed out, then now surely harriers can be given a chance.
      We are in great danger of losing a bird ,which could easily become extinct in the very near future.
      They are so rare that most people will have never seen one, I have seen only 2 in my long lifetime, spent in the right areas for them. We accept foxes will be killed ,but not in snares, but please leave our Hen Harriers in peace.

  2. Killing estates and their bloodthirsty gamekeepers are truly the scum of the countryside. Ban these outdated practices once and for all. Let our parched mono-cultured land return to a more balanced and productive eco system. Why do our governments and politicians keep defending all these criminals?

  3. I completely echo the comments above. These people create mono-culture environments and then have the nerve to proudly ( or otherwise ) proclaim that they are responsible custodians of the countryside. It’s shameful that SNH are so bound by protocols that they can sit by and watch this happen, using a lack of counting techniques as an excuse, when it’s obvious to any sane person what the effects on an ecosystem will be.

    I agree with Julie Wright’s comment above, that these remote areas would be much better managed as natural rewilded areas for the benefit of wildlife and associated tourism, instead of being raped for the benefit of a small elite who think the industrial scale butchery of other living organisms can be justifiably considered a sport.

    The reason this type of activity is defended is because of the vested interests of financially powerful individuals and organisations who think posing with a gun over the carcase of a dead animal is something to be proud about.

    They are egotistical morons with little or no empathy for other living things.

  4. I thought this level of ignorance was only to be found in the US or other undeveloped nations, not in Scotland. I guess I was wrong. I understand killing to eat, but the wanton slaughter of one animal just so there are more of another to bolster the stupid practice of killing for the sake of killing is sick.

  5. It’s just about what you’d expect from the single minded low mentality of the people who own and run these shooting estates, they don’t give a damn about wildlife and the natural environment, all they care about is GROUSE, GROUSE, GROUSE and nothing but GROUSE and they’ll stop at nothing to see that GROUSE prosper while everthing else declines !!!

    Did I mention they don’t care about anthing but RED GROUSE !!!

      1. You’re right Dave, the £ always seems to be just as important as the grouse, I bet if there wasn’t a pound to be made you’d soon see the Red Grouse moors fall into steep decline. The pound is probably one of the best ways to put an end to Raptor persecution and environment destruction once and for all, remove the large amounts of public money subsidising many of these shooting estates and make them fund them entirely with their own money. If they are not willing to or are unable to do that then they should turn the moorland shooting estates over to wildlife conservation.

  6. What a disgusting spectacle,people with to much money,and nothing else to do except walk around estates,killing hares,and anything else they can find,join the army if you must fire guns,perhaps it might make men of them.

  7. Unbelievable, if I went out on one of these estates and shot a couple of Hares for the pot and got caught in the act I could have my gun and vehicle confiscated, this is a game species, once again we can stand aside and wonder why the likes of the PAW UK, SNH, Countryside Alliance, BASC and others turn their backs and pretend this isn’t happening. They can sit around and have meetings discussing Deer poaching, Salmon poaching and other rural crimes preferring to blame this on organised gangs from towns and cities. the biggest percentage of criminals active in the countryside today are to be found on grouse moors and the saddest thing of all is that no one in the aforementioned groups has the balls to stand up for their law abiding members and say it! Do you honestly believe for one minute that SNH has this issue under review, bloody words again, more stalling tactics

      1. Be interesting to know who these “independent experts” are, what are their credentials and experience that puts them in this advisory position. Where are their alliances ???

  8. And what happens to many of these hares? Dumped onto ‘stink pits’ and then surrounded by dozens of indiscriminate and cruel snares. Project Raptor sees it all the time out and about and it isn’t just foxes that are suffering in these legal devices (The majority of snares used are to target foxes). Protected wildlife as well as cats and dogs are regularly caught every year in the UK and are either seriously maimed or die from starvation or of their injuries if the trap isn’t checked as the law requires.

    There is a silent slaughter going on out there and it is out of control.

  9. with a minimum average of 270+ Hares from each estate this isn’t controlling a species this is eradicating it, pure and simple, make no mistake each of these estates will carry on eradicating as many species that can have have a negative impact on Grouse populations as possible, Wheelhouse needs to act and SNH need to get that report out now not in december, its clear from what they’ve already written they know there is a big problem

    1. Wirralbirder
      I was recently in the Lammermiurs (Sep 10-12) and was surprised by the high number of Red Grouse on the hills.I also noticed how every hillstream had a log placed across the stream with a trap set halfway along the log.No doubt many creatures would use this set up to cross the stream and be trapped.
      Oh! I never saw a single hare,i wonder why?

  10. Theres a lot of Mountain hares in some areas mainly where foxes are kept down, this results in many more hares, and many of them do not survive a Highland Winter and starve.

  11. Being a Swedish reader of this thread, I am appalled and disgusted to learn that you allow this insane slaughter of wild animals in your country.

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