An animal welfare charity has called for an end to mountain hare culling on the first day of open season.
OneKind say tens of thousands of mountain hares will be killed by gamekeepers between August 1 and February 28 in a bid to manage their land for red grouse shooting.
The charity is calling for an end to the practice and said many hares are also “shot freely for sport”.
An online petition to Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, has also been signed more than 19,000 times.
Bob Elliot, OneKind director, said: “The First Minister has been clear that the culling of mountain hares is not acceptable yet once again the killing season has begun.
“It’s time to say enough is enough to the routine shooting of hares by gamekeepers managing their land for red grouse shooting and by hunting parties for the thrill.
“We need to ensure this year’s open season on mountain hares is the last and call on the Scottish Government to put an end to the large-scale culling of this beautiful animal.”
A freedom of information request last year revealed on average 26,000 mountain hares are killed in Scotland – with an all-time high of 37,681 in 2014.
Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone launched a consultation in June, with more than 1,100 responses received in its first month.
She said: “We need to ban the mass killing of Scotland’s hares. The voluntary restraint urged by the Government’s nature agency has proved inadequate.
“My proposed Bill would protect brown and mountain hares, ensuring that they could only be killed as a last resort.
“The consultation on my Bill is open for another six weeks and I’d urge everyone who is interested to respond and help shape the final Bill.”
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