THE SCOUTS have hit back at claims from an activist group that skills taught at a recent event involved an endangered animal.

Cheshire Monitors published a picture on their Facebook page on Monday, which was seen by the Herald, showing two Beaver Scouts from a Malpas group involved in the preparation of a number of hares and rabbits for cooking.

The claims from the activist group suggested that children were being taught “that it’s OK to kill an endangered species”.

But despite the activist group’s claims, Scout leaders have confirmed that the hares were supplied legally from a reputable supplier and the activity was part of a typical exercise.

A spokesperson for the Scouts said: “We are aware that a picture was shared on a private Facebook showing two Beaver Scouts standing next to some dead hares and rabbits.

“They were supplied to the Scout District by a reputable supplier and had been shot legally on private land with the permission of the landowner as part of a crop protection programme.

“The picture was taken at a District Scout event that took place in early July that was designed to teach Scouts food preparation and backwoods cooking skills.

“Teaching young people how to prepare basic food in camp conditions is part of the survival skills badge.”

A spokesperson for Cheshire Monitors said: “We couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing when we were recently passed a number of photos appearing to show members of the local Beaver Scout group, who are aged between six and eight, being taught how to prepare and eat hares.

“Hares are considered an endangered species in England, with their numbers having plummeted by 80 per cent over the last century.

“The brown hare is now being the subject of a Species Action Plan under the UK [Government] Biodiversity Action Plan, which aims to expand existing populations due to this decline.”

Hares are considered a game species and can be shot throughout the year.

Cheshire Monitors added that they had been contacted by parents of Bishop Heber High School, who expressed concerns that they were not given prior warning of the activity.