Protections for mountain hares have come into force from today, in what campaigners are calling National Mountain Hare Day.
The new regulations mean that it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take mountain hares without a licence.
The regulations were passed after pressure from Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone to accept the licensing as part of the new wildlife legislation.
Johnstone said: “Today is an important moment for all those who campaigned for years to end the indiscriminate mass slaughter of mountain hares on Scotland’s grouse moors.
“These new protections come as a direct result of my amendment to wildlife laws last year, which forced the Government to act after years of delay.
“Overwhelming public support for action ensured that Parliament supported this change, and I would like to express my gratitude in particular to the tens of thousands of campaigners who backed my amendment and helped push it over the line.
“Now that mountain hares are a protected species, the Scottish Government has a responsibility to protect them.
“We will be keeping a close eye on them and will challenge any move that suggests they are not fulfilling this duty.
“Scotland is in a nature emergency, with one in nine species at threat.
“The progress we are seeing today is important but we need to do so much more.
“The Scottish Greens are committed to fighting for Scotland’s nature, ending the persecution of our wildlife and restoring Scotland’s unique and beautiful natural environment.”
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