Hares and licensing

NatureScot can license control of mountain or brown hares in the closed season – but only in exceptional circumstances.

Intentionally or recklessly killing, injuring or taking a mountain or brown hare in the closed season is an offence under the amended Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Licences can only be granted for specific purposes, including:

  • to prevent the spread of disease
  • to prevent serious damage – e.g. to forestry interests
  • social, economic or environmental purposes

You must be able to provide clear reasons why alternatives such as taking action in the open season wouldn’t resolve the problem.

Closed season dates

Brown hare: 1 February to 30 September
Mountain hare: 1 March to 31 July

How to apply

Fill in the application form and email it to [email protected].

You should clearly set out on your application form why you’re seeking a licence and why the work must be carried out during the closed season.

Download the Licence application form – to kill mountain or brown hares

Read the guidance on Licences for social, economic or environmental purposes

How we assess applications

We will consider:

  • whether there’s a valid licensable purpose – e.g. hares are causing serious damage to growing timber
  • if there’s an alternative to licensed control – e.g. fencing, or control during the open season
  • the conservation impact on the species

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.

Find out more

Data Protection notice

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If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team

01463 725364

[email protected]