Hares ###         

What we want to do…. Our key objectives …

This involves ensuring that riparian habitat has:

Priority species

Brown hare and mountain hare are both Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan 2007 (UKBAP)

Brown hare and mountain hare both  remain Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC Act (2006).

As such they are both national priority species for Biodiversity 2020.

They are both Barnsley local priority species because of their national status and local interest.

Legal protection.

? protection

Brown hare and mountain hare need to be taken into consideration by any public body in managing their estate (section 41 NERC Act (2006))

The decline in numbers.

Formerly widespread throughout the country the Otter underwent a rapid decline for the 1950s to the 1970s, leaving the species absent from most of England.

Of the 2,940 sites surveyed in England in 1977-79, only 170 (5.8%) showed evidence of otters.  

Otters are now returning to many areas through natural re-colonisation, assisted in some areas by re-introductions.

Surveys now show that more than half the sites across England bore signs of otter, up from a third eight years ago and a ten-fold increase on 30 years ago.

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan target is to restore breeding otters to all river catchments where they were present before 1960.

Within Yorkshire

Historically otters were found throughout Yorkshire but were nearly lost from the county by the 1980s. South Yorkshire was particularly badly affected.

However increases in evidence of otter activity have now been recorded in all parts of Yorkshire.

Within Barnsley

Surveys for otters in Barnsley confirmed evidence of occasional otter activity along the Dearne valley and there has also been evidence of activity on a tributary of the river Don in the west of the borough.

Factors causing loss or decline

Supporting otters

A catchment-wide approach is essential to otter conservation. The main drivers for increases in the numbers of otters have been reductions in levels of toxic pesticides, improvements in water quality, and increases in fish stocks. Maintaining fish populations in rivers where otters have returned needs careful management until a balance is restored.

There needs to be sufficient bankside vegetation and undisturbed scrub cover.


Secure, undisturbed breeding sites and lying-up/resting sites are essential if otters are to establish and maintain sustainable populations. One such ‘lying-in’ site is needed approximately every kilometre of watercourse.

Breeding sites and resting places can either be in a hole in a bank or above-ground in a flattened area of vegetation.

Actions and mitigation to improve things for otters:


Land and waterbody owners and managers, including Barnsley Council, Environment Agency, and other public bodies and utility companies, private companies, charitable trusts, fishing clubs, and individuals:  follow best practice in managing rivers and streams, their banks, and neighbouring open water, wetlands and wet woodlands, to support otters.

Wildlife conservation bodies: give advice and provide practical support for habitat management for otters.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust with Landfill Communities funding: advises land-owners and improves habitats for otter.

Barnsley Council as planning authority:

ensures otter is protected through the planning process; sets conditions in relevant planning applications to ensure that relevant habitats are maintained and enhanced; takes into consideration records of otter presence.   

Voluntary groups and volunteers: help with information about the condition of sites that support otter and provide records of sightings and signs of otter; help with measures to support otter, eg: otter holts, habitat management.

Links with
priority habitats



Wet woodland


General information:

The Brown Hare is a familiar farmland species in Britain. Although sometimes confused with rabbits, Brown Hares are bigger, have

much larger ears, longer legs and reddish-brown fur.

They were probably introduced by the Romans and are widespread except in the Scottish Highlands and Pennines, where they are replaced by the Mountain Hare Lepus timidus.

Mountain Hare are found in the Pennines usually on ground above 300 metres. Although native to the Scottish Highlands, this species is a more recent introduction in the district as a result of the actions of the large moorland sporting estates.

Comments welcome

Email address not public.

Further information + advice

Natural England advice

Natural England information

Natural England information

Forestry Commission advice

Highways Agency standards

Barnsley Biodiversity Trust.  Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Last Updated March 2016