AUG 14, 2018 06:15 PM PDT

Researchers Warn of Extreme Mountain Hare Declines in the Scottish Highlands

According to a recent research collaboration between the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), mountain hare populations in the Scottish Highlands appear to be in some hot water.

The humble Scottish Highlands-based mountain hare may be in trouble.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Their study, published this week in the Journal of Applied Ecology, explains how mountain hare populations in the Scottish Highlands have declined so rapidly since the 1950s that their population numbers now sit at less than 1% of their original levels.

Between the years 1954 and 1999, mountain hare populations deteriorated by up to 5% year-over-year. More alarmingly, these declines allegedly accelerated to 30% year-over-year from the years between 1999 and 2017.

The severe population losses can be attributed to a variety of factors, but routine hare culling conducted by gamekeepers to control the spread of disease and ticks may have had the single most significant impact.

"Having counted mountain hares across the moors and high tops of the eastern Highlands since 1943, I find the decline in numbers of these beautiful animals both compelling and of great concern," said Dr. Adam Watson of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the lead author of the study.

Related: The first-known manta ray nursery has been discovered

Making matters worse, there’s no scientific evidence to support the idea that mountain hare culls have any benefit for gamekeepers. That said, the devastation inflicted on Scottish Highlands-based mountain hare populations was both senseless and unnecessary.

"We need the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage to take action to help these iconic mammals of the hill—I hope they will listen to the voice of scientific research."

It’s more than evident from the numbers that the ever-shrinking mountain hare population in the Scottish Highlands can’t keep up with the relentless culls. The researchers call on local lawmakers to implement protections for the small mammals before it’s too late.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 03, 2018
Microbiology
JUL 03, 2018
Undiagnosed Zika Infections may be Causing Miscarriage and Stillbirth
Zika virus might still be impacting pregnancies....
JUL 12, 2018
Videos
JUL 12, 2018
Why Poison Ivy Makes us Itch
For some people, summer comes with a risk of many itchy nuisances, including poison ivy....
JUL 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 17, 2018
A Whale's Blowhole Spray Can Say a Lot About it
Whales of all varieties are some of the most frequently-studied marine mammals in the ocean today; and now, animal scientists with the Anderson Cabot Cente...
AUG 02, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 02, 2018
As Earth Warms, Soil 'Breathes' Harder
Temperatures are on the rise, and it seems soil will become another factor in how our climate changes....
AUG 12, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
AUG 12, 2018
Bringing Genetics Research to the Developing World
Researchers want to ensure that technology is distributed equitably, to benefit everyone....
AUG 23, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
AUG 23, 2018
Growing Plants That Don't Need as Much Water
Parts of our world already have to deal with periods of drought, and it may only get worse....
Loading Comments...