British hare decline

This is a brown hare video.

From Wildlife Extra, about Britain:

UK hare numbers decline by 80% – Time for a close season

Hare hunting should be banned during breeding season – Urge your MP to sign a motion

June 2012. Hare numbers have declined from around 4 million a century ago to just 750-800,000 hares today.

There are two main reasons for this decline.

A shift in agricultural practices so hay meadows have been replaced by silage production. Under this system, the meadows are cut more often each year so the leverets (baby hares) get killed by farm machinery more often as they do not have earths to escape to, unlike rabbits.

Although it is illegal to hunt hares with dogs, it isn’t illegal to shoot them for sport. Tens of thousands of leverets starve to death each year when their nursing mothers are shot. It is estimated that around 400,000 hares are shot each year for sport, potentially 50% of their total population of 750-800,00.

All other game species have close season

Every other game species in Britain has a close season, and close seasons for hares operate in Northern Ireland, Scotland and much of mainland Europe already. Merely by bringing England into line with the rest, the hare population would have some breathing space and would almost certainly rebound. Hares were part of a Government species action plan in 1995 that aimed to double their numbers by 2010; this target was not met.

Research has shown that by February each year 65 percent of sampled female hares were pregnant, and by the end of the month 50 percent had given birth to their first litter of the year and were lactating. A survey in Scotland showed that in February 47 percent of female brown hares that were shot were pregnant; in September, it was 44 percent. It is estimated that at least 390,000 hares are shot in Britain each year, with hare shoots commonly organised in February & March (peak breeding season).

The same 2004 report for DEFRA stated “It could be argued that the introduction of a close season might be beneficial in terms of animal welfare through a reduction in culling of lactating females with dependent offspring.”


An Early Day Motion (EDM 2531), which calls on the government to protect hares during the breeding season, had attracted 146 signatures by June 2012.

Humane Society International/UK, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting and Hare Preservation Trust are urging the Westminster government to provide much needed protection, without delay, to prevent the needless suffering of young hares, and to help the government meet its own conservation targets.

Help protect vulnerable hares – Urge your MP to sign EDM 2531

A government target to double springtime numbers by 2010 failed to achieve its goal. And yet, because of a lack of protection during the breeding season, each year tens of thousands of dependent young hares are left to die a cruel death when their nursing mothers are killed.

Early Day Motion 2531 urges the government to introduce protection in England by setting a close season during this sensitive period. Click here.

Has your MP signed the motion? Check here.

The Hare Preservation Trust Website: here.

8 thoughts on “British hare decline

  1. Pingback: Olympic games and wildlife | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: British mammals, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.