Hares are fascinating creatures (letter July 11th). Unfortunately, In parts of the western side of the country, brown hares are not doing well, probably due to farms becoming less “mixed” (arable and grass). Across much of the rest of the country hares are thriving and seem to be doing particularly well this year.
We have been running a 20-year study on brown hares, including radio tracking the species, on our research farm in Leicestershire. The results of the study are compelling. We created a diverse range of habitats and controlled foxes; in response hare numbers increased over 10-fold from 1992 to 2000. Our research shows that foxes can systematically prey on and kill leverets(young hares) to such an extent that a fox family can eat the entire local population. As predicted, once we stopped controlling fox numbers the population of hares dropped dramatically to almost zero, showing that good habitat alone is insufficient to maintain numbers to herald recovery.
Dr Alastair Leake
Director of Policy
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
FREE Brown Hare research guide
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