The Brown Hare Under Threat

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman.

The brown hare is a solitary creature of open countryside and is a creature of the night for most of the year. Now and again he is abroad in day light to feed. However, he is inconspicuous and I have spent many hours scanning pasture land with my binoculars to ascertain if one is out feeding at that time. A foray into its known haunts has occasionally rewarded me with a sighting of the creatures mad sort of galloping which can only be described as one of the most entertaining of the mammal fraternity.

On one rare {rare because my constant canine companion could not accompany me because of an injured paw },occassion, one of these beautiful animals almost let me step upon it before it moved. I was a good deal more surprised by this than my wild friend. Off he went scampering over the field, through the hedgerow mounting the opposite bank it lopped with ease before disappearing over the horizon and out of sight.

When my canine companion is with me the hare more readily takes to flight, with Katy my small lurcher in hot pursuit. I love to see her chase a hare. Not in the name of sport or any way a sense of blood lust,but to observe two magnificent animals doing what they are born to do. I have seen Katy gaining ground on the creature. But experience also informed me that this was a misleading impression. The hare was toying with her. The creatures long ears were still erect the equivalent of a fast car being driven in second gear. Katy got within 3 meters of the hare when the animal flattened its ears upon its back, the powerful legs went into the equivalent of a cars turbo drive and within seconds the hare was 50 meters ahead of her. What a marvelous sight this is to a countryman!. Minutes later Katy would return to me panting madly, the energy used up in this chase a days exercise. A dog pursuing a hare on its own territory has little if any chance at all of capturing its quarry. The hare was just going about his business of surviving. It was by now, quite likely to be sat on its haunches cleaning himself, unperturbed by recent events.

Rabbits may bolt for their front door in the face of danger but the hare who spends his life above ground relies on his superior speed, excellent eye sight, immaculate hearing and sense of smell, and its powerful limbs to survive.

The brown hare despite its common name varies a great deal in its colouration. Age having much to answer for in this respect. The general colour of local hares is of a tawny grey colour above tinged with rufous, while the under parts are white. The large long ears are prominently tipped with black. The tail is black above and white below. The total length of this athletic animal is about two feet.

Brown hare

The brown hare relies on speed and knowledge of its territory to survive. photograph courtesy of Ansgar Walk
The brown hare relies on speed and knowledge of its territory to survive. photograph courtesy of Ansgar Walk

Lifestyle Two.

The brown hare is solitary for much of the year, that is until the breeding season is upon them. In the north west of England this usually commences in March. "MAD MARCH HARES" can be seen on our hills and pastures at that time. They box like kangaroos and are delight to watch these antics. These normally cautious and inconspicuous creatures throw caution to the wind when love is in the air. A frenzy of activity is carried out in broad daylight as they chase each other around the meadows. This phenomena  of hares boxing each other was once thought to be males fighting for dominance. However, studies have revealed it occurs more so between the males{Jacks} and the females {Jills} who may be testing the males determination a prelude to mating. Or it may well be that the Jill is not ready to mate, if this is the case, the boxing can become very aggressive. The male will eventually mate with many females.

The gestation period between mating and birth is usually 42-44 days. The babies known as leverets are born fully clothed and with their eyes open. They very quickly become independent, as befits their lifestyle. The female will take them out onto her territory and leave them returning now and again to feed them. 

I recall on one foray of mine I happend across a clearing pink with willowherbs where two leverets were playing on the track above which pigeons softly crooned in the lofty boughs. Sightings like this remain forever in the memory of nature lovers.

Unfortunately as a species the brown hare is in decline through the U.K. as a whole. Much of this decline has taken place since the 1960s. The rate of decline has been 2% per year during the 1990s. During the 1991/92 Nation Hare Surveys it was revealed that the fall in numbers has been more pronounced in western pastoral England than in the eastern arable lands.

Fortunately my own region of West Lancashire situated in the north west of England is still a strong hold for these beautiful creatures. They are , sadly, like many other species in the U.K. classed as a Priority Species of Conservation Concern, and a species action plan is currently being implemented by conservation organisations to halt and hopefully reverse the decline.

Leverets are born fully clothed.

THESE BEAUTIFUL YOUNG HARES ARE SOON INDEPENDENT. Photograph from Flickr
THESE BEAUTIFUL YOUNG HARES ARE SOON INDEPENDENT. Photograph from Flickr

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Comments 26 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi jandee nice to see you here, thank you for your kind comments. Jandee you have not heard my voice, some one else would have to do it ha,ha. Best wishes to you.


jandee profile image

jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

Hello Dal,this very morning I was in the park(next to Sefton park)waiting for the Park Police to remove a dead animal which I reported a few days ago. Afraid I was too squeamish to go close up ,anyway dog was too pully,not sure what it was but on looking at the first picture of yours it could have been a hare,magnificent creature.

Dal I think your storytelling would be well suited for radio as well as the written story-poetical and interesting,thank you from jandee


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

The pleasure is mine Colin. May be you would like to try my website WWW.dalswildlifesite.com Cheers and best wishes to you. HERE ON HUB PAGES THERE ARE MANY GREAT HUBS COVERING A GREAT MANY SUBJECTS. DO YOU WRITE YOURSELF? THIS IS THE PLACE FOR YOU.AND ITS FREE!


colin mac 5 years ago

Thanks for your kind reply D.A.L. Anecdotally I have been told that east of the Alt farmers and gamekeepers have been shooting them out because of the disturbance and crop damage caused by young men with their lurchers. I can not confirm this from personal experience but how sad if true.

Just discovered your hubsites earlier this week and have had great pleasure reading your posts. Keep up the excellent work.

Best wishes Colin.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Colin thank you for your visit. They are magnificent animals. Could it be that the hares are no longer tolerated on the estates now that hare coursing has been banned? Glad you have confirmed that another declining species the grey partridge is still around along with the corn buntings. Best wishes to you.


colin mac 5 years ago

I too love to watch hares in West Lancashire and enjoy the flat open spaces of the Sefton Altcar Lydiate area. Still plenty of Grey Partridge and Corn Buntings so typical of this area but in the last three years the Brown Hare seems to have suffered a sad decline.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Eileen thank you for reading. Rabbits were the main stay meat diet in the countryside when I was in my youth. Like you I hope the brown hare population recovers.


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

A very good article on their plight. Hope they are dont decline too much. We used to love eating rabbits. I know, but we eat other animals too.

Its weird how we eat say chooks and think nothing of it.

Thanks for a great article.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Gypsy Willow thank you for reading and for leaving your comment, it is a fact that many species that were once abundant are now in decline. March is a glorious time to see them their antics are amazing.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Thank you for drawing attention to their plight. As kids we used to go beagling to chase hares but I never saw one caught. In March we used to watch their "mad" antics in the field behind my mum's house. Sad they are in cecline


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Shalini. Thank you for reading and for your appreciated comment. It is sad that the hare and many more species worldwide need our help. It is help they deserve from us after the impact we have had on their lives and habitat.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

Thank you, D.A.L. for bringing the Lancashire countryside alive for us on HubPages! Isn't it sad that even hares need to be a part of the conservation drive?


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Carol thank you for reading and for leaving your encouraging comment.


reddog1027 profile image

reddog1027 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

When I read your articles, not only do I learn something new but I feel as if I am taking a stroll with your and your companion, Katie.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Law of the jungle Darlene , only the strongest survive in hard times that is why the vulnerable species need our help. Thank you ,again for reading and for your much appreciated comments.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Wonderful article, I love to read your writing it has such passion and love for life. All our hares and rabbits are now all gone, the foxes have been so hungry, the eat them all now they are eating the squrrels, so sad...


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi Rose West, thank you for taking the time to read the hub,and for your comments.

prasetio30. thank you , also, for reading and for your appreciated comment.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I get wonderful information here. You have great thought and open wide knowledge.


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

This was a very cozy read! I feel more acquainted with the hares now :)


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Linda thank you for reading glad you enjoyed it. Your comments are appreciated.


Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

Hi D.A.L., I had myself a nice chuckle with the mental picture of your dog chasing the hare, especially with the bit about the hare taunting him, that, and the fast car analogy... That was just too good. I also appreciate that you paired that with a bit of education on the endangered nature of this species.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Thank you Kaie for taking the time to read and for your appreciated comment.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

I have never seen one of these, but my grandfather always told me that I reminded him of one. ;-) Always running and too quick to be caught.

Thank for the great HUB; I enjoyed it!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Goes to show how they have declined in certain areas jayjay Thank you for reading and leaving your kind comment.


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

I haven't seen hares for years. I remember seeing them 'boxing' when I was young. Lovely hub

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