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  • May.20.2018: Mountain hare culls on Scottish sporting estates are reaching 38,000 a year. The full extent of the culling of one of Scotland’s native species, the mountain hare, has been revealed with data released under FoI showing up to 38,000 a year are being killed on sporting estates. The figures, produced for the Scottish government last year but not previously published, suggests that large-scale mountain hare killing has been routine in Scotland for many years. The govt agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) advised the Scottish govt that it might have to report to the European Commission that the population was in “unfavourable status”. The figures emerged after the Scottish govt published a joint statement with the Shooting Industry promising “voluntary restraint” on large-scale culls, which, along with recent footage of a number of culls taking place in the Highlands, suggests it has had little impact on shooting estate practices. Harry Huyton, the director of animal welfare charity OneKind, said that “large-scale mountain hare killing is a routine” and added that “voluntary solutions” were not working. Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, said the public would be “shocked to know the true extent of mountain hare killing”. Eileen Stuart, head of policy and advice at SNH, urged estates to “exercise restraint”. Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group which represents estate interests, said: “The data since 1954 provides no evidence for an underlying decline in the hare population. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “It is our understanding that there is evidence in circulation which disproves local population decline in northeast Scotland. See Comment by Alan Cranston: The main reason given is that they carry ticks which transfer to the grouse and thus reduce grouse numbers and thus the profits of the grouse moor. However there is little science to back this, and ticks are vectored by a number of other means including by the sheep which gamekeepers foolishly believe 'mop up' the ticks. Other reasons are less readily admitted. Hares can compete with grouse for young heather shoots, and so are shot. Hares can also be prey for raptors, which may also eat grouse, and so are shot. Billy Briggs, The Tiumes.
  • Feb.07.2018: Hedgehog highways put species on route to recovery. The hedgehog population is growing in many urban areas after years of decline partly because of households that have created “highways” linking gardens and green spaces, a survey has found. The Times, Ben Webster

Forests + Woodlands

  • 2018.01.11: Theresa May's tree planting can't hide the crisis facing the UK's ancient woodland. On Jan.07, in a prelude to this week's historic release of the “25 Year Plan for the Environment”, May announced that the govt will help create a new "Northern Forest"; a "vast ribbon of woodland" that will stretch from coast to coast between the cities of Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. This is a big win for forestry campaigners. The Woodland Trust and The Community Forests Trust have carefully developed the project together, and hope it will deliver major benefits, from flood reduction to increased biodiversity. According to the director of the Mersey Forest Trust, Paul Nolan, the new £5.7m of Defra funding is a vital first step towards meeting the scheme’s full £500m, target. “It’s a good start and we’ve got 25 years to make the case for further money and support..." Britain's real-world woods - our living, breathing capsules of sylvan time - are in crisis. Just 2% of the UK has tree-cover dating to 1600 or earlier and the Woodland Trust believes the overall decline to be so bad that England is entering a state of “deforestation”. At Kew Gardens, researchers are already resorting to preserving endangered species in seed banks. New Statesman, India Bourke

Related Groups

  • The Woodland Trust
  • The Community Forests Trust
  • The Mersey Forest Trust