On June 17th we noted that, “Some remarkably good news. The Scottish parliament has just voted to protect Mountain Hares. This is a huge blow to the intensive grouse industry which has been massacring hares in huge numbers to ‘protect’ the artificially high numbers of Red Grouse they farm for the gun. Like birds of prey, stoats, weasels, corvids and whatever else the ‘industry’ decide should be eradicated, Mountain Hares have been relentlessly targeted much to the gloating amusement of the estate’s gamekeepers who have been caught parading vehicles rammed to the gills with dead hares or standing unconcernedly alongside rows of corpses far too often – which undoubtedly has helped motivate the public to vote in favour of their victims and against them.“
The bulk of the work in parliament was done by Alison Johnstone MSP of the Scottish Greens, and she has been inundated with messages of congratulations for gaining protection for a native species that is so emblematic of the uplands.
Is that the end of the matter? Unsurprisingly, no it’s not. Land owners, hunting lobbyists and gamekeeper associations have long believed they have almost a god-given right to do what they like on (especially) grouse moors – variously trying to sell themselves as ‘responsible managers’, ‘conservationists’, ‘key employers’, and the only people willing to maintain the traditions that etc etc etc. It’s all nonsense of course: the annual massacre of Red Grouse is about status and power, the enjoyment of killing wild animals for ‘sport’, and – above all else – the profit it generates. At around £3000/day it’s expensive to play at being ‘a real man’, and estates are more than happy to take the money (while allegedly employing people at below the living wage).
So what’s their response to NOT being able to kill Hares? The gamekeepers have risibly suggested the vote was ‘undemocratic’ and think that setting up their own political party would be a good idea! It sounds excellent to us: there’s nothing like losing multiple deposits to help you understand just how unpopular you are. The so-called Countryside Alliance have threatened to go after Alison herself: baseless ad hominem attacks on ‘animal rights extremists’ are the norm for hunting lobbyists so that hardly comes as a surprise.
It’s all rather typical, in fact. And will have virtually no impact. Both groups seriously over-estimate their reach. Beyond their dwindling core, the majority of the public these days are pro-wildlife and don’t take remotely seriously the claims of people like this.
In the meantime here’s what Alison wrote: