Volunteers are needed for the primary on-the-ground nationwide survey to make clear distribution and numbers of Scottish Mountain Hares. The survey, which is launched at present and can stick with it all through 2021, is looking on hillwalkers, naturalists and different out of doors fanatics to document sightings of the charismatic animals as they’re out and about. No earlier expertise of wildlife surveys is important to participate.
Mountain Hares are Scotland’s solely native hare and an vital species within the Scottish hills, and gathering extra correct details about them will assist inform conservation efforts.
There is concern in regards to the state of the Mountain Hare inhabitants and the attainable results of management measures. The out there sources of data current a blended image of their conservation standing, making it tough to attract agency conclusions on inhabitants dimension and tendencies. The image is additional sophisticated by their naturally biking populations, which might fluctuate by ten-fold or extra over intervals of about 9 to 10 years.
This mission is a partnership of NatureScot, the British Trust for Ornithology(BTO), the Mammal Society, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the James Hutton Institute. It builds on earlier work to develop appropriate counting strategies and seeks to enrich these different counts to permit improved monitoring of Mountain Hares throughout their vary in Scotland.
Mountain Hare, copyright John S Nadin, from the surfbirds galleries
To take part, volunteers will want a smartphone with the free Mammal Mapper app. This can be utilized to document mammals throughout walks wherever in Scotland. It accommodates an in-built ID information to assist members establish mammals that they see, plus a part on upland birds which might now be recorded too. The BTO web site additionally exhibits the very best precedence areas for Mountain Hare monitoring (www.bto.org/mountain-hares). Volunteers are requested to participate as and when regional Covid journey restrictions enable.
Fiona Mathews from the Mammal Society stated: “Mountain Hares are classed as Near Threatened in Britain by our latest Red List, highlighting the necessity for pressing motion. Almost all of Britain’s Mountain Hares are present in Scotland, but in most areas we have now little or no data on how they are doing. That is why we’re calling on the general public to assist in our new mission. You don’t should be a specialist: all you want is to be out within the hills with a smartphone.”
Rob Raynor, a mammal specialist at NatureScot, stated: “Many folks take pleasure in seeing Mountain Hares within the Scottish hills. Our precedence is to be sure that they continue to be a standard sight. To do this, we’d like a greater understanding of the present inhabitants – one thing which this novel nationwide survey will make attainable by filling within the gaps in our data. It will give us a greater image of Mountain Hare numbers, each regionally and nationally, and assist selections about the best way to keep and preserve our native hare inhabitants.
“We’d wish to encourage hillwalkers and anybody with an curiosity to contribute their sightings to this useful mission. We have a web-based coaching video and steering inside the app, so members who aren’t sure in the event that they’ll be capable to inform the distinction between Mountain Hares, Brown Hares or Rabbits can really feel assured about their identification as soon as they’re out within the hills.”
Ben Darvill from the BTO added: “Scotland’s out of doors fanatics can rework our understanding of Mountain Hares through this straightforward survey. It’s simple to log hare sightings whilst you’re out within the hills, and eager members can even document the upland birds that they see, too. We hope that the mission will add an pleasurable additional dimension to out of doors adventures.”
The survey data can be collated by the British Trust for Ornithology and the Mammal Society, and abstract knowledge made publicly out there. The knowledge will contribute to a wider Mountain Hare monitoring scheme that makes use of different strategies, comparable to night-time counts with spot lamps, and can be used to higher perceive how Mountain Hare numbers are altering.