Hill walkers asked to report sightings of 'near threatened' mountain hares in Southern Scotland

  • Video report by Clare McNeill.

Hill walkers in Southern Scotland are being asked to report sightings of mountain hares.

The species is classed as near threatened, and wildlife charities are asking for the public's help to protect them.

Mountain hares have roamed the hills of Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders for centuries, but The Mammal Society are not sure how many there actually are.

Mountain hare in its winter coat in the snow-covered Cairngorms National Park. Credit: Lorne Gill-NatureScot

Gathering more accurate information about them will help inform conservation efforts and work to improve their habitats.

The society has developed an app which you can fire up when you head out your walk. It tracks your route, and if you happen to spot a mountain hare, you just tap the app and it records the exact location where it has been sighted.

Mountain hare in its summer coat. Credit: Lorne Gill-NatureScot

Fiona Mathews from the Mammal Society said:“Mountain hares are classed as Near Threatened in Britain by our recent Red List, highlighting the need for urgent action.

"Almost all of Britain’s mountain hares are found in Scotland, yet in most regions we have very little information on how they are doing.

"That is why we are calling on the public to help in our new project. You don’t have to be a specialist: all you need is to be out in the hills with a smartphone.”

The survey will continue throughout 2021, and it is hoped the data collected will help this species survive and thrive years to come.