Recently we published some photographs of a load of dead mountain hares with some people lined up behind the corpses, grinning at what they’d done (see here).
These photographs caused quite a reaction, both from the general public, who were appalled at such scenes, and from the grouse-shooting industry who generally said the photographs were old and large scale hare culling no longer took place.
They were lying, of course.
We were recently sent some photographs taken by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. The photographs were taken on 25th February 2016 in the Cairngorms National Park. On first glance, it looks like some blokes out with their vehicles in the snow:
But when you zoom in, you see exactly what’s been going on:
That’s a truckload of dead mountain hares.
This photograph was taken from the Lecht road (the A939 Cockbridge to Tomintoul road). According to the grid reference we were given, these vehicles were parked on the Allargue Estate. Now that doesn’t mean that the hares had been massacred on the Allargue Estate or indeed that Allargue Estate staff were in any way involved. We’d be surprised if they were because the Allargue Estate was one of the first fully accredited members of the Wildlife Estates Scotland initiative and a gamekeeper here won the Purdey Gold Award in 2014 for Game & Conservation. According to the Purdey Awards website this estate “works tirelessly to uphold the Wildlife Estates Scotland high standards of wildlife management”.
Grouse-shooting estates have been slaughtering mountain hares for a long time. They do it because they believe mountain hares carry a disease (Louping Ill virus) which can affect their red grouse stocks (i.e. the number of red grouse available to be shot, for fun, during the grouse-shooting season). We, and others, have been writing about this for some time. Here are some previous blogs we’ve written about mountain hare massacres on grouse moors in the Angus Glens (here and here), Aberdeenshire (here) and the Lammermuirs (here).
Last year, SNH called on landowners to practice “voluntary restraint” and try to reign in their lust for slaying mountain hares (here). We said it was a pointless call (here) and clearly we were right judging by the photograph above. Last year, ten conservation organisations asked SNH to impose an immediate three-year ban on hare culling (here) to allow an assessment of how these large-scale and indiscriminate culls were affecting the conservation status of the mountain hare. Landowners reacted strongly against this proposal (read the link!) and SNH refused to impose the temporary ban because the evidence for action was lacking, apparently.
Marvellous. Welcome to Scotland and especially to the Cairngorms National Park.
UPDATE 11.30hrs: Scottish Land & Estates has issued a statement in response to Rob Edwards’ article in the Herald. You really have to read it. Bear in mind it’s not a spoof. See here.
UPDATE 14th March 2016: A few more blogs covering this atrocity –
The Ferret (by Rob Edwards) here
Another one from Mark Avery (#HelpingItHappen) here
Scottish Greens here
UPDATE 14th March 16.00hrs: Cairngorms National Park Authority responds here