Gamekeepers and grouse moor managers will be banned from mass culling mountain hares after Scottish ministers bowed to intense pressure from conservationists. The Scottish parliament voted on Wednesday night to give mountain hares special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which will make it an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill or injure the hare without a licence. Conservationists and animal welfare groups were delighted with the decision, which came as MSPs voted to ban salmon farmers from shooting seals and introduced far tougher penalties for wildlife crime amongst a series of new animal protection measures. Bob Elliot, the director of the animal welfare charity OneKind, and a former wildlife crime investigator, said his organisation and others had been pressing Holyrood to protect mountain hares for several years. “Different reasons given by the grouse shooting industry for the supposed need to control mountain hares, such as the prevention of louping ill, a disease carried by ticks, have been successively discounted, and animal welfare has taken precedence,” he said. The measure was introduced by Alison Johnstone, the Scottish Green party MSP, as a late amendment to the animal protection bill and accepted on Wednesday night by Mairi Gougeon, the […]

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