Cairngorms National Park Authority responds to mountain hare slaughter

Following yesterday’s blog about the recent massacre of mountain hares on grouse moors within the Cairngorms National Park (see here), and the subsequent outpouring of public anger on social media, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has published a statement on its website (here). We’ve reproduced it below:

Our [CNPA’s] statement in response to the mountain hare cull which was reported in the media at the weekend.

Hamish Trench, Director of Conservation and Visitor Experience said  “CNPA has previously set out concerns about the balance of moorland species and habitat management and the need for better data on mountain hare populations is part of this. Observation suggests there is a good population of mountain hares in the Cairngorms and the managed moorlands provide a good habitat for them. We back the current research project which is working with estates in the National Park to establish better counts.

In this case we understand the hare cull was part of a planned annual management cull. We recognise the public concern about the scale of culls and this emphasises the need for good information on populations and restraint in line with SNH’s advice in the meantime. In particular we expect moorland managers to ensure any culls do not threaten the conservation status of mountain hares.


Hares_Lecht_25Feb2016 (2) - Copy

It’s really a non-statement. They had to say something, as a lot of people have been asking questions about how such a wildlife massacre can be allowed to take place inside the National Park. We thought the CNPA would come out strongly and condemn it, especially as we know they’ve previously expressed concern about how some elements of driven grouse moor management (i.e. the illegal persecution of raptors) “threatens to undermine the reputation of the National Park as a high quality wildlife tourism destination” (see here). Indeed, some people on Twitter have been saying they won’t visit the CNP while this level of wildlife killing continues.

However, far from condemning the latest mountain hare massacre, the CNPA’s statement almost suggests that this level of killing is acceptable because it was “part of a planned annual management cull“. Eh? Planned by whom? And is the use of the words ‘planned‘ and ‘management‘ supposed to imply that this wasn’t just a gang of gamekeepers off on another unregulated killing-spree but rather was a carefully-thought out cull, with mountain hare population figures rigorously and accurately assessed to ensure the cull was sustainable? If so, where are those figures, who collected them, and can we all see them, please?

Take out the words ‘planned’ and ‘management’ and you get: “The hare cull was part of an annual cull“.

The CNPA says: “We expect moorland managers to ensure any culls do not threaten the conservation status of mountain hares“. Really? Why would anyone expect moorland managers to voluntarily act in this way? This is an industry well-known for not adhering to some statutory wildlife and environmental legislation, let alone voluntary adherence to requests, as we’ve discussed before (here). How can the CNPA be so naive? Or is it just easier to put out a bland statement that really says nothing of any use than it is to properly investigate the circumstances of these mountain hare massacres?

It’s not very impressive. In fact it’s as unimpressive as SNH’s view, as reported in Rob Edwards’ piece in the Herald (here):

SNH agreed that it was difficult to judge whether the cull was excessive or not. It was aiming to improve its population estimates of mountain hares by 2017, and reiterated its call for “restraint on large-scale culls of mountain hares“‘.

In other words, SNH doesn’t have a clue about how sustainable this cull was, has no intention of trying to find out, is asking (not telling) the landowners to show some restraint, but don’t worry folks because there’ll be a better way of assessing mountain hare numbers by 2017. So until then lads, fill your boots.

Of course, these large-scale mountain hare killing-sprees should now have ended (temporarily) as we’ve entered the closed season which is supposed to prevent the lawful killing of mountain hares during certain periods of the year (1st March – 31st July). Whether the closed season will be adhered to is another matter – who is monitoring this? The same organisations monitoring the ‘sustainability’ of mountain hare massacres (i.e. nobody)?

If you’re as unimpressed with the CNPA’s reaction as we are, you might want to send an email to Hamish Trench, Conservation Director of the CNPA, to tell him what you think:

You might also want to have your say on the future of National Parks, as suggested by Mark Avery last week (here). If the CNPA and SNH aren’t going to speak out against mountain hare massacres, you can!

34 thoughts on “Cairngorms National Park Authority responds to mountain hare slaughter”

  1. Yeah. Where is the action plan, the risk assessment, the documented numbers of culled animals, the documentary report on the cull, the route plan, ammunition proposed, ammunition selected, ammunition used report, animals projected vs animals actual, etc. A planned cull ought to have a paper trail and signature track so large it should have filled that hare truck three times over and it ought to be publicly available (and available in advance, for safety of the public) to read and critique. Where is the paper trail?

  2. What a pathetic response from the National Park. if OUR wildlife isn’t safe from human interference and mas slaughter within the boundaries of a so-called National Park, where is it safe to flourish? ‘Driven grouse moors’ have no place anywhere in the UK in the 21st century, but they most definatly should be banned in a National Park.

  3. What gives the grouse shooting fraternity the right to shoot all these hares on a National Park, in fact why is any form of shooting even allowed on a National Park. Bland statements like the one put out by Hamish Trench, Director of Conservation are worthless where the protection of wildlife is concerned, if that’s the best he can do he shouldn’t be in the job or at least change his title. It’s a total disgrace in this day and age that the Vicorian attitude of the grouse shooting brigade is still allowed to continue killing everything they see as a threat to their overpampred and overpopulated Red Grouse, even more so where a National Park is concerned. It’s long past the time that grouse shooting was banned totally, it should have been done years ago.

  4. An absolutely disgraceful statement: it could not have been more bland or anodyne if they had tried. Why is the shooting industry so far above the law?

  5. Looked up Hamish Trench’s cv online. His first & longest period of employment (over 5 years) is for Bidwells. Then from Bidwells Scottish website:-
    “We provide our clients, who own some of the finest stalking, shooting and salmon fishing in Scotland, a comprehensive and professional Sporting & Fishing management service.

    Our integrated strategic consultancy and specialised letting service includes:

    Deep knowledge of environmental planning, including Deer Management Plan/Moorland Management Plan preparation
    Deer range management
    Deer larder design and development
    Deer stalking lets
    Grouse moor management
    Grouse shooting lets (driven or walked-up)
    Fisheries management
    Pheasant, duck and partridge shooting lets
    Pheasant shoot management
    Salmon fishing lets
    Sporting lodge and holiday house management and letting”

    I think his early career, colleagues & training must have had a strong influence on his attitudes, don’t you? Not sure what his degree was or his family background but he seems to be being true to his life experiences. Maybe a little ecological training might not come amiss!

    1. Thats the nub of it Northern Diver – heres a tip for all of you, when you hear the word “balance” used in a conservation context you can be sure it comes from the shooting/landowning lobby…and actually means, tip the scales in favour of large bags. Enough of these pathetic attempts to justify the 150 year long failed experiment that is driven grouse shooting. If they werent culling the raptors and ground predators, then the numbers of hares would be in balance. National Park!..youre having a laugh, arent you?

  6. Clearly they plan on assessing Mountain Hare numbers by shooting them all and counting the corpses!

    Our country seems to be closer to the Med in terms of wildlife slaughter than we ever dreamed of (nightmare)

  7. Pathetic bull****. Hamish says nothing to support the massacre. Where is the scientific proof of necessity?

  8. Was never a fan of the national park concept and in practice it’s living up to my doubts. It’s all about economics and funnelling in the tourists (and the complaining when too many turn up)

  9. My email to Trench. The man has no place in a job which places recreational killing above animal welfare

    “What an utterly meaningless piece of drivel was your response to the recent slaughter of mountain hares. Call yourself a conservation officer, you have just handed any leering meathead with a gun the licence to kill as many mountain hares as he wishes, on a weekend jolly with his equally mindless mates. If this is your idea of conservation you should blush crimson when your next pay cheque arrives.
    You are an unmitigated disgrace to the job title.
    Seems to me that your interests and responsibilities are somewhere far removed from conservation. Shame on you Trench!”

  10. I bet the parks marketing manager is at the end of his or her tether. but sadly, many of the parks visitors at this time of year have the same monied backgrounds as the grouse moor users. The Park is now so expensive to visit and stay in that it’s becoming a rich mans playground for their sports – skiing or shooting, take your pick.

  11. Stop allowing this kind of mass murder of our natural wildlife, their population, no doubt, will manage itself by its own means without the intervention of human meddling

  12. Dear Sir,

    I was astounded to see yet another obscene photograph of an apparent “culling” of mountain hares within the precinct of the Caingorms National Park. This photograph leads me to believe that your organisation excercises very little control over what goes on in the “national park”, a belief I have held for some considerable time. I would have thought that such abysmal negative publicity for your organisation would lead you to take a far more proactive role in policing such outrages – it is insufficient to expect that any kind of voluntary control by sporting interests would work and it is up to your organisation to take a much, much firmer stance on such occurrences before the general public looses all confidence in your organisation and its ability to remain “fit for purpose”.

    It would not be the first time that a failing organisation has been deemed thus and completely vilified in the nation press, leading to wholesale changes in personnel and management – you, personally, need to get a grip on this.

  13. Extract from todays statement from Hamish Trench (ex-Bidwells – see earlier post), Conservation Officer (gulp) for Cairngorms NP:-
    “The concerns expressed to us about the culling of mountain hares highlight the issues in this debate well. It is of course legal to cull mountain hares outside the close season. In some places hares are culled to reduce damage to woodland regeneration, but the primary motivation for grouse moor managers is to reduce the prevalence of ticks. The question people reasonably ask is whether the scale of culls are appropriate and how do we know the impact on the hare population. This flags up the lack of information but also the underlying concern people have about the balance of management. In part better data can help this debate and we support the current work to establish better counts of mountain hare populations. But in large part this is about reaching a consensus on bigger questions about upland management. We can’t resolve these questions in the Cairngorms National Park alone, but it is a place where we should be, and are making progress in delivering more diverse habitat and better integration, which is why moorland management remains a priority for the National Park Authority.”

    Sounds to me as if he is squirming. They can’t resolve these questions alone – but are they trying?

    Incidentally, forgive my probable ignorance, but could someone tell me if Mountain Hares damage woodland regeneration? I always thought they inhabited open moorland but maybe they feed in woods and, if so, do they graze on seedling trees?

    And, as some have mentioned, is the real reason to cull hares to remove the food supply for eagles etc. as a legal way of ridding moorland of raptors?

  14. We should all email Nicola Sturgeon and tell her of our altered holiday plans – outrageous that Hamish Trench is in charge of the CNPA with his background – gamekeeper turned state financed gamekeeper!

  15. ‘CNPA has previously set out concerns about the balance of moorland species ‘

    Balance in this context equates to BANK BALANCE.

    This response is based on unscientific claptrap .

  16. What amazes me, is that our wonderful Establishment Broadcasting Companies find it impossible to highlight wildlife massacres on our own shores, yet they will force-feed the hypocritical viewpoints of the parasites and benefits cheats from Buck Hoose to us on a regular basis.

    Today (again!), we had William, one of the royal family’s major spokesclowns, blethering on about the shameful massacres of elephants and rhinos in Africa, whilst completely ignoring the mass slaughter of the Britain’s iconic wildlife. Of course, as far as he is concerned, [Ed: rest of this paragraph deleted as it’s defamatory].

    A rancid hypocrite, typical of those involved in the “sport” shooting industry.

    1. I fully understand your position in relation to the perceived defamation, but it was a factual account of what he said in his interview – he does support trophy hunting – and of his failure to remove ivory products and animal trophies from royal households.

      Here’s a link to the ITV interview, which is laughable in the extreme.

      Apart from his hypocrisy, he then tries to suggest that there are links to terrorism.

      William: There are possible links to terrorism that are involved with poaching, you know, it’s a very difficult subject for me to get involved in but there is definitely evidence out there.
      Mark Austin: So poaching is funding acts of terror now?
      William: In certain areas, there is potential evidence, and links, that I can’t go into myself, but I know of, that are of a concern that I think we should be taking more urgent action on.

      That’s not bad. In the space of a minute, we have possible links to terrorism, to definite evidence, then potential evidence. So despite the fact that at some stage William was lying during the interview, all of this went unchallenged (as usual).

      ITV News also mentioned the issue of snares, and the following statement was issued

      “In six months, rangers have seized a staggering 10,000 snares, like this crude noose….Deadly, and indiscriminate, one trap still holds the remnants of an elephant’s foot. This young male still bears the scars from a snare. One in six elephants here carry injuries from a human encounter

      Now, I’m not going to criticise ITV for highlighting these problems, but I will criticise them for allowing a known wildlife killer to use the show for a blatant PR stunt, and I will criticise them for refusing to highlight the fact that our own wildlife suffers from the same issues.

      The epitome of the sad state of UK journalistic standards.

  17. The underlying question in all this is where do the priorities lie, is it with the huge amounts of protected wildlife including specially protected raptors etc, that are slaughtered without thought for conservation and protection, or is it with the grossly overpopulated and pampered Red Grouse that are artificially manipulated to maintain unnaturally high stocks for paying guns to shoot at the total expense and final demise of of the so-called protected wildlife. It can only be one or the other, compromise, as has been proven will not work as the shooting fraternity are unwilling to change anything that may effect their bags of grouse in any way whatsoever.

  18. SHAMEFUL ! this is’nt Conservation Murder on Grand scale.the sooner they are brought to heel & shown for what they really are . Above the law . Disgracefull.

  19. This so called cull is a load of RUBBISH all lies your doing this for the HARES WHITE FUR for the rich and so called famous so stop this CRUELTY NOW

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