Despite being one of our few endemic mammals, there is very little known about Mountain Hares. Unfortunately they are also currently being culled on quite a large scale. Why? Well they carry a tick that may affect the breeding success of Red Grouse. It’s just not in the press in the same way as the Badger cull, but it’s happening and in staggering numbers. There are different views on the success of this eradication – indeed, my local keeper says that other ground nesting birds such as Dunlin, Golden Plover and Curlew have also increased on his land. So it’s a complex issue at best. Another gamekeeper I meet up with regularly says sheep are best at ‘mopping up’ ticks and less costly option than other methods.
More research is being conducted, which will hopefully vindicate the Hares or at least pose a way forward that considers the pros and cons of various approaches.