Mountain Hare - Statement May 2021
The Scottish Parliament voted on 17th June 2020 to change the protection status of the mountain hare, meaning that from 1st March 2021 the intentional or reckless killing of mountain hare will be illegal throughout the year, unless carried out under a licence. Although it was not the main focus for this change, falconry will be directly impacted.
NatureScot (previously Scottish Natural Heritage) are developing a new licensing system which is due to be announced in July. As a registered stakeholder, the Hawk Board has been consulting with NatureScot on the specifics of this new licensing system, ensuring that falconer’s voices were heard during the process.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WACA) a license can only be granted to control hare for specific purposes (e.g. to prevent damage to crops), and as falconry is not a defined “licensable purpose” within the act, NatureScot is unable to grant licenses for falconry. However, falconry will be accepted as an “approved method of taking/killing” and so falconry will be allowed if a license is granted for a defined purpose under WACA.
The Hawk Board has highlighted the animal welfare concerns for our birds being unable to hunt their natural quarry to NatureScot, however they can only follow the legislation. Going forward the only way to guarantee our sport to continue is getting primary legislation passed, adding falconry as a licensable purpose to WACA.
The Hawk Board would like to stress that falconers should only hunt mountain hare when the necessary license has been granted, failure to do so will only paint falconry in a bad light to the public and further risk our ancient art.
Hawk Board Scottish Rep