Thursday, 15 October 2020

Beautiful native hares are threatened by hunting

One of Britain’s most recognised but elusive wild creatures is the hare. Often associated with symbolism and mystery, these beautiful animals deserve to live peacefully in our countryside, but, sadly, are threatened by illegal hunting.


There are three native species of hare in the UK. The brown hare with its distinctive black-tipped long ears, the mountain hare, whose russet coat changes to white or grey to blend into snowy surroundings, and the Irish hare, a sub species of the mountain hare found only in Ireland.

                                            Brown hare © Norfolk Wildlife Trust


These timid and elegant creatures are in danger of being victims of hare hunting packs. In England and Wales there are 71 registered hare hunting packs, and in Northern Ireland, seven. Scottish mountain hares have protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, if properly enforced. But hunters are notoriously tricky to catch, and evade the law.

                                           Mountain hare © I Campbell GWCT



The League Against Cruel Sports is campaigning to strengthen the Hunting Act 2004. Whilst offering some protection, it still allows loopholes to be exploited by unscrupulous hare hunters, who may claim that they are hunting rabbits (legally) whilst ‘accidentally’ killing protected hares. Hunting with dogs is cruel, causing suffering to the hares who naturally live above ground (unlike rabbits), and are chased to the point of exhaustion.

The brown hare is listed as a conservation priority in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan, so everything possible should be done to help him thrive. In Scotland, mountain hares are illegally hunted to protect grouse moors, and in Northern Ireland it is still legal to hunt hares.


Read more about how to help the campaign to  educate law enforcers to identify this cruel activity and  give hares better protection under the law on the League Against Cruel Sports website

Let’s hope that the campaign gets the support it deserves, to help protect these iconic and beautiful wild creatures.

                                            Irish hare © Irish News

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