Hares and licensing

NatureScot can licence control of mountain hare throughout the year or brown hare in the closed season.

From 1 March 2021 mountain hares are included on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and so have full protection.  This means, for example, that anyone who intentionally or recklessly kills, injures or takes mountain hare without a licence will be acting unlawfully.

A new licensing scheme for mountain hare is now available for persons wanting to kill or take mountain hare.

Please note the legislative requirements for brown hare have not changed.

Intentionally or recklessly killing, injuring or taking mountain hare at any time 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 serious damage – e.g. to forestry interests
  • social, economic or environmental purposes

You must be able to provide clear justification and evidence why control is necessary at this time, and what alternative action preventative action has been undertaken to date.

Closed season dates

Brown hare: 1 February to 30 September

General Licence 16/2022

General Licence 16/2022 is available for the sale, advertisement, possession & transportation of mountain hare carcases & mountain hare meat by controllers, caterers and retailers.  It is valid from 1 January to 31 December 2022.

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 control brown hares

Download the Licence application form - to control mountain hares

Mountain hare licensing - guidance for applicants

Download the Licence supporting information - mountain hare - herbivore management plan

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 (for brown hare)
  • 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


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]

Last updated: