Snow covered mountain

Translocating Mountain Hares

Snow covered mountain

Translocating Mountain Hares

“The environmental movement up till now has necessarily been reactive. We have been clear about what we don’t like. But we also need to say what we would like. We need to show where hope lies. Ecological restoration is a work of hope.”

– George Monbiot, Feral

1. What is a Rewilding Impact Project Vote?

2. Radio Tagging Salmon

3. Translocating Mountain Hares

4. Building Eagle Nest Platforms

5. The Results

“The environmental movement up till now has necessarily been reactive. We have been clear about what we don’t like. But we also need to say what we would like. We need to show where hope lies. Ecological restoration is a work of hope.”

– George Monbiot, Feral

1. What is a Rewilding Impact Project Vote?

2. Radio Tagging Salmon

3. Translocating Mountain Hares

4. Building Eagle Nest Platforms

5. The Results

What is a Rewilding Impact Project Vote?

Each three months, our members are given the chance to vote for their preferred rewilding interventions to be implemented at one of our projects. Together with our partners, we come up with 2 or 3 options for high-impact projects that support the wider rewilding vision of the area.

For the winter 2019 rewilding impact project vote, our focus turned to the Scottish Highlands, where we work with Alladale Wilderness Reserve, a rewilding estate working to bring wilderness back to the Highlands. Here, our members were given the choice between radio tagging Atlantic salmon for monitoring purposes, translocating mountain hares and building white-tailed eagle nest platforms.

What is a Rewilding Impact Project Vote?

Each three months, our members are given the chance to vote for their preferred rewilding interventions to be implemented at one of our projects. Together with our partners, we come up with 2 or 3 options for high-impact projects that support the wider rewilding vision of the area.

For the winter 2019 rewilding impact project vote, our focus turned to the Scottish Highlands, where we work with Alladale Wilderness Reserve, a rewilding estate working to bring wilderness back to the Highlands. Here, our members were given the choice between radio tagging Atlantic salmon for monitoring purposes, translocating mountain hares and building white-tailed eagle nest platforms.

Radio Tagging Salmon

According to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, for every 100 Atlantic salmon (Salmo sala) that leave Scotland’s rivers for the sea, fewer than five return. This represents a decline of nearly 70% in 25 years. In Partnership with Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, this project aims to track Atlantic Salmon through radio tags, focusing on the River Carron and its tributaries. The project would fund the tagging of 10 salmon and would provide valuable data for the conservation of this iconic species, including identifying any barriers to spawning that may be exacerbating their decline

A scottish salmon jumps up river to spawn
A scottish salmon jumps up river to spawn

Radio Tagging Salmon

According to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, for every 100 Atlantic salmon (Salmo sala) that leave Scotland’s rivers for the sea, fewer than five return. This represents a decline of nearly 70% in 25 years. In Partnership with Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, this project aims to track Atlantic Salmon through radio tags, focusing on the River Carron and its tributaries. The project would fund the tagging of 10 salmon and would provide valuable data for the conservation of this iconic species, including identifying any barriers to spawning that may be exacerbating their decline

Translocating Mountain Hares

The mountain hare (Lepus timidus) is classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It is rare across many parts of the Highlands, including our project area. By translocating mountain hares to the area, this project could provide increased breeding opportunity and genetic diversity and to the local population. It could also serve as a trial translocation, where systematic post releasing monitoring could be employed to inform future reintroductions and translocations of mountain hares.

A mountain hare in summer coat sites camouflaged against the brown heather
A white-tailed eagle carries a fish in its talons

Building Eagle Nest Platforms

Around 100 years ago, white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) were eradicated from the UK primarily through persecution. They were reintroduced to the west coast of Scotland in the 1970s and subsequently the east coast of Scotland and the Isle of Wight. This year a white-tailed eagle was spotted regularly at the project area. This presents the perfect opportunity to encourage these rare birds of prey to nest on the reserve. In partnership with the Roy Dennis Foundation, the project was originally designed to build 2 artificial nest platforms for white-tailed eagles, but it has since been decided that the second platform will target golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), another priority bird of prey in Scotland.

The Results

Towards the end of 2019 our members voted to support the translocation of mountain hares to the project area. Since then we have been taking the first steps towards this ambitious project. Over the coming months we will keep our members informed of the major updates so that they can keep track of the work they are helping to support. We are also incredibly excited to announce that we were able to secure funding to implement all three options. The salmon tracking and sea eagle nest platforms will be funded by our wonderful business partner Inlumi. Work is already beginning to build the nest platforms and tag salmon in time for the breeding season of both these species.

A red and white tape wraps around a tall scots pine

The Scots pine chosen as the site of the white-tailed eagle nest platform.

Tall Scots pine stand amongst young pine trees across a snow covered landscape

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

    1. 1.“A Manifesto for Rewilding the World” – George Monbiot – monbiot.com
    2. 2. “Rewilding Success Stories” – The Guardian – theguardian.com
    3. 3. “Rewilding abandoned landscapes in Europe”LM Navarro, HM Pereira 2015, Ecosystems, September 2012, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 900–912, Springer Link Publishing 
    4. 4. "Seven decades of mountain hare counts show severe declines where high‐yield recreational game bird hunting is practised”A. Watson and W. Jeremy 2018 – Journal of Applied Ecology Vol. 55, Issue 6 - besjournals.com  ✅
    5. 5. Factors affecting the within-river spawning migration of Atlantic salmon, with emphasis on human impacts" - E.B. Thorstad et al. 2007 - Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries Vol 18 - Springer Link Publishing
    6. 6."Comparative nest habitat characteristics of sympatric White‐tailed Haliaeetus albicilla and Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos in western Scotland" - R.J. Evans et al. 2010 - Bird Study Vol. 57, Issue 4 - tandfonline
  1.  

Relict Scots pine near our planting area stand amongst young newly planted pine trees

Translocating Mountain Hares

The mountain hare (Lepus timidus) is classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It is rare across many parts of the Highlands, including our project area. By translocating mountain hares to the area, this project could provide increased breeding opportunity and genetic diversity and to the local population. It could also serve as a trial translocation, where systematic post releasing monitoring could be employed to inform future reintroductions and translocations of mountain hares.

A mountain hare in summer coat sites camouflaged against the brown heather

Building Eagle Nest Platforms

Around 100 years ago, white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) were eradicated from the UK primarily through persecution. They were reintroduced to the west coast of Scotland in the 1970s and subsequently the east coast of Scotland and the Isle of Wight. This year a white-tailed eagle was spotted regularly at the project area. This presents the perfect opportunity to encourage these rare birds of prey to nest on the reserve. In partnership with the Roy Dennis Foundation, the project was originally designed to build 2 artificial nest platforms for white-tailed eagles, but it has since been decided that the second platform will target golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), another priority bird of prey in Scotland.

A white-tailed eagle carries a fish in its talons

The Results

Towards the end of 2019 our members voted to support the translocation of mountain hares to the project area. Since then we have been taking the first steps towards this ambitious project. Over the coming months we will keep our members informed of the major updates so that they can keep track of the work they are helping to support. We are also incredibly excited to announce that we were able to secure funding to implement all three options. The salmon tracking and sea eagle nest platforms will be funded by our wonderful business partner Inlmui. Work is already beginning to build the nest platforms and tag salmon in time for the breeding season of both these species.

A red and white tape wraps around a tall scots pine

The Scots pine chosen as the site for the white-tailed eagle nest platform.

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1.“A Manifesto for Rewilding the World” – George Monbiot – monbiot.com
  2. 2. “Rewilding Success Stories” – The Guardian – theguardian.com
  3. 3. “Rewilding abandoned landscapes in Europe”LM Navarro, HM Pereira 2015, Ecosystems, September 2012, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 900–912, Springer Link Publishing 
  4. 4. "Seven decades of mountain hare counts show severe declines where high‐yield recreational game bird hunting is practised”A. Watson and W. Jeremy 2018 – Journal of Applied Ecology Vol. 55, Issue 6 - besjournals.com  ✅
  5. 5. Factors affecting the within-river spawning migration of Atlantic salmon, with emphasis on human impacts" - E.B. Thorstad et al. 2007 - Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries Vol 18 - Springer Link Publishing
  6. 6."Comparative nest habitat characteristics of sympatric White‐tailed Haliaeetus albicilla and Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos in western Scotland" - R.J. Evans et al. 2010 - Bird Study Vol. 57, Issue 4 - tandfonline