Several wildlife groups, including Care for the Wild International (CFTWI) and the Hare Preservation Trust, are calling for a close season for brown hares. CFTWI claims that “the 1,000 hares shot a day need protection”, and that 350,000 brown hares are shot annually. However, these figures are not supported by any direct evidence. When Shooting Times spoke to the CFTWI, it claimed that the “reasonable figures” came from various conservation groups, farmers and shooters.

The spokesman said that while BASC should have a say in the policy on brown hares, the wildlife groups should also be included: “We feel Natural England is a better place for co-ordinating a policy for brown hare management. We are seeking a close season at the present time.”

The organisation explained that there would not be time for new legislation before the next election. However, it has called for “a voluntary code in line with the law in Scotland”. The Scottish Government brought in a close season for the shooting of brown hares in February 2012.

Dr Jonathan Reynolds of the GWCT told Shooting Times there were strong arguments for keeping the status quo: “We feel that a close season will not bring any significant conservation or welfare benefits for hares and in general would reduce the incentives for farmers to tolerate and encourage the species.

The rest of this article appears in the 13th March issue of Shooting Times.

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