AUG 14, 2018 6:15 PM PDT

Researchers Warn of Extreme Mountain Hare Declines in the Scottish Highlands

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
APR 05, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 05, 2020
This Bird Can Mimic Almost Any Sound Accurately
Birds of all kinds are renowned for their calls, songs, and relentless chirps. Some birds use their calls to communicate ...
APR 06, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 06, 2020
The Merciless Rare Giant Snail Devours Earthworms
Rare giant snails are quite literally both rare and giant. These creatures can grow to the size of a human fist, and onl ...
APR 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 07, 2020
As the Seasons Change, Hornet Colonies Make Tough Decisions
Hornet colonies can be particularly susceptible to the Earth’s seasonal changes. That’s why when the climate ...
MAY 15, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
MAY 15, 2020
It Only Takes One Gene For Virgin Birth in Honey Bees
Cape honey bees are found in South Africa, and while they look similar, they are very different from other subspecies of ...
MAY 26, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 26, 2020
Rabbits in North America are Threatened by a Deadly Virus
A deadly virus has been spreading among the wild rabbit populations of the southwestern United States. This devastating ...
MAY 25, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 25, 2020
Cuttlefish Are Amazing, and Here's Why
Many people have heard of the cuttlefish but haven’t actually seen one in person – and we’re just goin ...
Loading Comments...