Minister Rejects Calls for Close Season to Protect Hares

Humane Society International

  • Hare populations have suffered serious declines. Andy Fisher

by Mark Jones

Environment minister Richard Benyon has rejected calls from us and our partners for a meeting to discuss the need for a statutory close season for hares, in order to protect pregnant and nursing does and their leverets (young) during their sensitive breeding season. Instead, the minister is supporting a voluntary industry ‘code’ which doesn’t even begin to address the issue.

According to published figures, up to 300,000 of the estimated spring population of 750,000 brown hares in England are killed by shooting each year.

Read about our hare protection campaign

Unlike most other hunted species, and unlike in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of the rest of Europe, no close season exists in England and Wales meaning that many pregnant or nursing does are likely shot each year, leaving their dependent leverets to starve.

HSI believes that providing better protection for hares will help populations begin to recover from the serious declines of around 80 per cent that we have seen over the past century. It will also help prevent the suffering and death of many thousands of leverets.

HSI will continue to work to achieve greater protection for our hares.

Mark Jones is executive director of Humane Society International/UK.