Scottish Land & Estates said tonight that gamekeepers and land managers were ‘dismayed’ by a vote in the Scottish Parliament that outlaws the control of mountain hares.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Scottish Parliament has voted for sweeping changes to regulations covering the control of mountain hares and the introduction of further criminal offences of vicarious liability around the use of traps and snares.

“These changes will not help Scotland’s wildlife, which is the prime concern of gamekeepers and land managers. Mountain hares are thriving on Scotland’s moors and their fate will not be improved by this vote. There is clear evidence that the control of hares helps combat tick and Lyme disease and protect plants and young trees. Balanced wildlife management is key to meeting Scottish Government targets on biodiversity and tree planting. It was disappointing that this seems to have disregarded by so many at Holyrood today.

“Yet again, we have seen rushed, last-minute amendments to a bill which will lead to flawed legislation. It cannot be good governance to have years’ of scientific research, evidence and effort tossed aside without proper consideration. We support better animal welfare standards and strong penalties for wildlife crime and backed this bill’s objectives but are dismayed that legislation is passed without the type of scrutiny that the public would expect.”

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