Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Yesterday i was asked if we airgunners can shoot hares. So i went on the hunt for a answer that i could post on my blog and i found this. It has been published by the goverment, in response to a petition to impose a closed season on hare hunting, so you dont get much closer to the law than this:
The brown hare is a widespread and conspicuous farmland species in Britain. It was formerly considered abundant, but underwent a substantial decline in numbers during the twentieth century. In response to this decline, the brown hare became one of the first species to be listed under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) in 1995. The key objectives of the resulting Species Action Plan were to halt the decline in hare numbers and, more ambitiously, to double the population by 2010.
Brown hares are not protected by a close season in the UK. In part, this is because it is recognised that hares can cause serious agricultural damage, and farmers need the flexibility to address problems when they occur. A close season is also likely to create significant problems in the east where hares are already regarded as a pest species. Even if a close season was introduced, it would remain necessary to permit control to prevent damage. As most culling that takes place from March onwards is likely to be in the context of pest control, except for illegal poaching activities, a close season may provide only a limited welfare benefit for hares.
Although there are animal welfare arguments to support the introduction of a close season by reducing the numbers of lactating females with dependent offspring that are culled, published available data on pregnancy, gestation length and weaning indicate that to attain a virtually complete prevention of nursing hares being killed would require a close season lasting most of the year, leaving only mid-December through to the end of January as an open season. Furthermore, there is currently no evidence that the introduction of a close season would significantly enhance hare numbers. Hare numbers have declined throughout Europe despite protection with close seasons and the available data on population dynamics suggest that intensive culls in February, typical of game shoots, have no long term impact on hare numbers. In addition, the majority of hare shooting in England currently occurs in regions, such as East Anglia, where hares are abundant.
The current view of the Brown Hare Species Action Plan Steering Group, which advises the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on this species, is that habitat changes due to modern farming practices, rather than hunting or shooting, are the main cause of population decline in the brown hare. The Steering Group has therefore not recommended the establishment of a close season. If there is any change to this advice then we would consider the case for new legislation to protect the brown hare. The Central Science Laboratory report which was made available to them can be accessed on the Defra website at:
The Government remains committed to achieving the goals set out in the Species Action Plan and to improving the welfare of animals. Further details of the Species Action Plan for the brown hare, including progress towards the Plan's targets, are available from the UK Biodiversity Website (at: www.ukbap.org.uk).
It is important to remember changing legislation is only justified if there is clear evidence that the changes are necessary and that they will achieve their stated goal. It does not appear that the case for a close season for the brown hare has yet been convincingly demonstrated.

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