Protected species: hares
Both species of hare found in Scotland – the brown hare and the mountain hare – are protected by law.
Brown hares are a quarry species which may be legally controlled during the open season, but is protected in the closed season under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The closed season for brown hare is 1 February - 30 September. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or take a brown hare in its closed season without a licence. It is also an offence to possess or control, sell or offer for sale, or transport for the purpose of sale any living or dead brown hare (or rabbit), or any derivative of such an animal, which has been killed without a legal right to do so.
From Monday 1 March 2021 mountain hare are included on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), giving them full protection. This means that at any time of the year, anyone who intentionally or recklessly kills, injures or takes mountain hare without a licence will be acting unlawfully. It is also an offence to possess or control, sell or offer for sale, or transport for the purpose of sale any living or dead mountain hare, or any derivative.
The mountain hare is also a species of 'Community interest' listed on Annex V of the Habitats Directive and so has some protection under the Habitats Regulations 1994 (as amended).
Licensing allows named individuals to carry out actions that could otherwise constitute an offence. If you’re planning any activities that could affect hares, you must make sure you stay within the law.
Find out about hares and licensing.
Learn more about licensing.
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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.