Joint news release issued by NatureScot, BTO, the Mammal Society, GWCT and the James Hutton Institute
Volunteers are wanted for the first on-the-ground national survey to shed light on distribution and numbers of Scottish mountain hares.
The survey, which is launched today and will carry on throughout 2021, is calling on hillwalkers, naturalists and other outdoor enthusiasts to record sightings of the charismatic animals as they are out and about. No previous experience of wildlife surveys is necessary to take part.
Mountain hares are Scotland’s only native hare and an important species in the Scottish hills, and gathering more accurate information about them will help inform conservation efforts.
There is concern about the state of the mountain hare population and the possible effects of control measures. The available sources of information present a mixed picture of their conservation status, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions on population size and trends. The picture is further complicated by their naturally cycling populations, which can fluctuate by ten-fold or more over periods of about nine to ten years.
This project is a partnership of NatureScot, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Mammal Society, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the James Hutton Institute. It builds on previous work to develop suitable counting methods and seeks to complement these other counts to allow improved monitoring of mountain hares across their range in Scotland.