Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shares ‘anger’ over hare culling footage

Mountain hare (Getty Images)
Mountain hare (Getty Images)

NICOLA STURGEON has said legislation to protect mountain hares is among options being examined by the government following the release of footage showing the animals being killed on a Scottish estate.

An investigation by OneKind, League Against Cruel Sports and Lush shows “military style” mass killing of the animals on grouse moors.

The animal rights charities have said the footage shows the agreement for voluntary restraint over culls has “failed” and along with broadcaster Chris Packham are calling for a cull ban until a review on the issue concludes.

However, the Scottish Moorland group, representing land and rural businesses, said culling is “not only legal but necessary”.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone raised the “sickening slaughter” at First Minister’s Questions, saying: “When will the Scottish Government introduce new legal protection for this fabulous, iconic animal?”

Ms Sturgeon said she shared Ms Johnstone’s “anger”, adding: “Large-scale culling of mountain hares could put the conservation status at risk and that is clearly unacceptable.

“I want to be very clear today that the government is exploring all available options to prevent mass culls of mountain hares and one of those options, of course, is legislation and a licensing scheme.

“What we are seeing is not acceptable and that is a very clear message that goes from the government today.”

Animal charity renews calls for end to mountain hare culls on the last day of the open season

She said officials would meet with landowners, gamekeepers and environmentalists.

Harry Huyton, director of OneKind, said: “Our investigation has revealed that instead of restraining themselves, as the Scottish Government has asked them to do, some estates seem to be at war with mountain hares.

“We filmed large groups of armed men moving around the mountains in convoys, killing hares and filling their pick-ups with dead animals as they go.

“The voluntary approach has failed, and the Scottish Government must take urgent action if it is to prevent further killing before the open season starts once again in August.”

Mr Packham added: “It is clear that self-restraint is not preventing large-scale culls of mountain hares on grouse moors and, as such, the law should be changed before we lose another iconic species from our uplands.

Mountain hare killing is not monitored in Scotland, however a Scottish National Heritage study estimates 25,000 mountain hares were killed in 2006/07.

This is understood to be between 5-14% of the total population.

Animal campaigners say approximately 40% of those killed are shot for sport shooting, and 50% as part of organised culls.

Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, said: “This footage has been filmed by animal rights activists, who actively campaign against this type of land management, and have no interest in managing the balance of species and habitat on Scotland’s heather moorland.

“Mountain hare management is not only legal but necessary and is carried out within a regulatory framework of closed seasons and licences administered by Scottish Natural Heritage.”

A rabbit is for life not just for Easter: Scottish SPCA advise people not to buy pets as gifts