Mountaineering Scotland Calls for Your Help in Tracking Mountain Hares

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Hillwalkers in Highland Perthshire are being called on by Mountaineering Scotland to count the number of mountain hare’s they see this winter.

They’re asking for your help in an effort to give conservationist a better understanding of the number of hares in the mountains.

A spokesperson for Mountaineering Scotland explained: “The survey was launched because wildlife conservation organisations had limited information on how many hares there are in Scotland, and their distribution in the hills. Existing data indicated that there was an urgent need to protect hares and find out more about them, with gaps in data in the more remote uplands.

“This is where hillwalkers and climbers come in, recording on an app where mountain hares were seen, and even the absence of sighting is important to know.  That may indicate where more intensive survey effort is required.  No special skill or training is required to use the free Mammal Mapper app, with instructions and an ID guide available in the app.

“The survey is continuing through the winter, and you may think that it would be hard to see them as the hare’s white fur would camouflage it against snowy hills, and you’d be right.  But they will leave tracks in the snow which can be easy to identify, especially at altitudes above 500m. And with changing climatic patterns, the camouflaging fur and snowfall may not coincide like they used to in the past, now with dark fur against the white snow, and whitish fur against a dark background.”

The survey launched back in March of this year and so far as many as 195 mountain hares have been seen.

Mountaineering Scotland is emphasising how even reporting not seeing a mountain hare in the hills helps to build a bigger picture of where they are and are not.

A spokesperson for Mountaineering Scotland said: “On some walks none were recorded, on some one or two hares, and on others from a handful to over a dozen.  The results can indicate the distribution of these mountain mammals in Scotland – where they exist, and the abundance of them – how many may be in an area, giving an indication of the health of the population.

“It’s always important to remember that the absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.  Where mountain hares are seen or not seen provides valuable information, and the more surveys undertaken gives a better picture of how they are currently doing.

“The app can record many more mammals and birds than just mountain hares, all adding to a better picture of how wildlife is faring in the uplands.”

More information on the survey can be found on: https://www.mammal.org.uk/mountainhareproject/

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