Dunging the maths: How to count elusive mountain hares

Image copyrightScottish Natural Heritage
Image caption The report identified the finest methods to count mountain hares in Scotland

They are Britain’s only native hare and may have been here because the Ice Age.But mountain hares are elusive and often hard to spot and even more challenging to count.Now brand-new research study from Scottish Natural Heritage(SNH) may have found the answer -and it includes dung and utilizing spotlights during the night-rather literally capturing a rabbit (sorry, hare) in the headlights.SNH said event precise details on mountain hares was very important due to the fact that it permitted their numbers to be”efficiently kept an eye on and handled “. The report stated:”Despite the value of mountain hares for both shooting and preservation, little is known about their numbers or how to guarantee their sustainable management.”The clinical research study was performed in collaboration with the James Hutton Institute and the Video Game & Wildlife Preservation Trust.Image copyright Scottish Natural Heritage Image caption A mountain hare in its summertime coat It took a look at and compared a variety of approaches which could be usedto tape-record mountain hare numbers-including capture and regain, direct counts – throughout daytime, and with lights at

night, thermal imaging and dung surveys.Eileen Stuart, SNH’s Head of Policy & Recommendations, stated:” Numerous people delight in seeing mountain hares in the Scottish hills. Our priority is to make sure mountain hares remain a common sight. To do that, we need a better understanding of the existing population- something which & this report will make possible.”The study was carried out in between 2014 and 2016 at an overall of 10 websites in Perth and Kinross, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands.The research study concluded 2 methods were the most effective, dependable and cost-effective for approximating hare populations: Systematically counting hares at night utilizing a spotlight Measuring dung build-up (counting the pellets)over four to six months during the winter Ms Stuart added:” We hope that the counting approaches suggested in the report will be embraced by those who manage land around Scotland, and the details offered to us.”This will offer us

  • a much better image of mountain hare numbers, both regionally
  • and nationally and support regional decisions about ways to preserve and conserve our native
  • hare population. “Image copyright SAIS Cairngorms Image caption A hare was photographed in the Southern Cairngorms last January SNH stated mountain hare numbers change extensively in between years, and between regions, but the details presently readily available recommends the Scottish population is stable.And the animals are not constantly able to shy away from the headlights, or cameras.The hares change colour from brown to white to better camouflage themselves againstwintry conditions.They have required a restriction on choosing till appropriate safeguards are

    in place.Grouse shooting estates have actually assured “voluntary restraint”to keep hare populations healthy in areas such as

    the Cairngorms.Image copyright Scottish Natural Heritage Image caption Mountain hares are Britain’s only native hare Researchers, ecologists and agents of land supervisors met previously this week to examine the SNH report’s suggestions with the goal of establishing and carrying out a monitoring programme.Adam Smith from the Video Game & Wildlife Preservation Trust stated:”Mountain hares gain from moorland management throughout Scotland and we want to guarantee this continues and understand why the species might be challenged in other places. “We hope adoption of the new counting methods that our research study has actually identified will shed additional light on

    the conservationof this types.”Susan Davies, director of conservation atthe Scottish Wildlife Trust, stated:”This report makes it clear that reasonably little is learnt about mountain hare numbers or ways to manage them sustainably.”In spite of this lack of information hares continue to be subjected to unregulated culls, and decreases have been reported in regional populations. “Now that there is broad agreement on the most & appropriate method of monitoring mountain hare numbers it is crucial that a robust national study is established in time for counts to occur this autumn. “This should notify the lawfully needed evaluation of the conservation status of mountain hares under the Habitats Regulation.”