Call to End Hare Hunts and Frog Saving Bacteria

Published on June 26th 2019
A mountain hare

Hare Hunts to End

Green MSP Alison Johnstone has launched a new bill to provide legal protection to hares and foxes.
The proposed bill will prevent the killing of hares without a license. According to landowners, hares are hunted on grouse moors across Scotland to protect grouse from disease.
Announcing a public consultation on the bill, which will run until mid-September, Alison Johnstone said: ' Mountain hares are routinely being killed in huge numbers on grouse moors in particular, with an average of 26,000 killed every year. This is a native species whose population has crashed in some parts of the Highlands, and there is simply no justification for the killing.'
'For hunting to continue despite this (the Protection of Wild Mammal Act, 2002) leads to distrust in our institutions and those leading them. My proposals would represent a new contract between land managers and the wider public that could help restore good faith.'
Responding to the proposal, Scottish Land & Estates said that 'evidence rather than ideology should be the basis for future legislation on wildlife management'.
Chairman David Johnstone said that evidence of a national decline in mountain hares was not conclusive, according to Scottish Natural Heritage less than two years ago. He also said that a report from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust found that management of grouse moors was beneficial to mountain hare populations, even after population control was factored in.
Last year, a report by a leading academic suggested that numbers of mountain hares in moorland on the eastern Highlands was at less than 1% of their 1950's population.
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Frog Saving Bacteria

A close up of a frog
The Common Frog
A new study has suggested that bacteria on the skin of frogs could save them from a disease threatening frogs across Europe.
Scientists from ZSL's Institute of Zoology and the University of Exeter compared the microbiome -bacteria living on the skin- of two groups with a varying history of ranavirus. Ranavirus is currently responsible for killing large numbers of European frogs.
They found that populations with a history of outbreaks had a “distinct” skin microbiome when compared to those where no outbreaks had occurred.
Author Dr Lewis Campbell said: 'The skin is often the first infection point in ranavirus, and the first stage of the disease can be skin sores.
'It’s possible that the structure of a frog’s microbiome – the mix of bacteria on its skin – can inhibit the growth and spread of the virus so it can’t reach a level that causes disease.'
'While the results of our study demonstrate a clear link between the frog skin microbiome and disease, further research will be needed to understand the exact mechanisms which cause this relationship to form.'
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