Campaigners call to protect rare species of hare facing threat in Peak District

Wildlife campaigners are calling for the protection of an iconic mammal in the Peak District.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 11:15 am
Mountain hare in partial winter coat. Photo by Mark Hamblin.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is urging the government to protect mountain hares after Scotland introduced new legislation to do so.

It is now illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take mountain hares in Scotland at any time unless a licence is obtained.

The trust is calling for legislation to provide at least an equivalent level of protection to be introduced in the Peak District

The mountain hare is one of the most iconic mammals you may be fortunate to see in the uplands of the Peak District National Park.

It is distinguishable from the brown hare by smaller size, more rounded shape and shorter ears and legs.

The summer coat is brown or grey brown with white undersides.

It also has a spectacular change of colour to its coat in winter when it turns completely white.

The population of somewhere between 1,500 to 5,000 hares in the Peaks is the only population of this mammal in the whole of England.

The creatures are considered to be a highly vulnerable, small population, facing many threats.

Joanne Carnell, of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The number of mountain hares that are getting shot in the Peak District is unclear.

"However, in recent years there has been evidence of the remains of hares ending up in stink pits, deployed by gamekeepers on grouse moors, which are designed to attract predators such as foxes which are then shot.

"In addition, dead mountain hares have also been observed laid out in heavily snared areas on grouse moors again to attract predators that are subsequently shot.”

Mountain hare, which are more abundant in Scotland, are now protected under the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) Act 2020 in Scotland.

Ms Carnell added: “We urge the Government to introduce legislation to provide at least an equivalent level of protection for hares in the Peak District without delay.

"The population is extremely vulnerable, facing multiple threats. Shooting and snaring of this iconic mammal should be banned completely.”