Brown Hare

Latin name: Lepus europaeus

With its long hind legs, large ears and elegant poise, the brown hare is a much-loved symbol of the British countryside.

Unlike rabbits, the brown hare does not build a burrow but instead spends the day in a small depression in the ground known as a 'form'. It is a nocturnal animal and searches for food at night, feeding on shoots, leaves and berries.

If you are lucky enough to see two hares boxing, don’t be mistaken in thinking this is two males clashing. It is in fact a female fighting off amorous males. And this ‘mad march hare’ behaviour can occur throughout the year but is more commonly spotted during the spring when the nights start getting lighter but the crops are still relatively short.

In the Yorkshire Dales National Park, brown hares can be found in a variety of habitats from grassland and heaths to woodland and moorland. As a nocturnal creature, it is difficult to monitor the brown hare population. As a result, little is known about their current status in the National Park although the population is assumed to be relatively stable.

The Hare Preservation Trust is a volunteer organisation that promotes the welfare of hares in the UK.

At risk?

The brown hare population has decreased dramatically in recent years. It is thought that this is largely due to the growth in intensive farming. In addition, brown hare is the only game species in Britain that does not have a close season although many campaigners are fighting for this to be introduced.

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The unfolding of Grass Wood throughout the year is a story of rich fulfilment. From 'Wharfedale' by Ella Pontefract & Marie Hartley

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