Join our zoo community

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Wild hares at Whipsnade

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Tim May, 2 Jul 2016.

  1. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    16 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    1,500
    Location:
    London, England
    When I used to visit Whipsnade back in the 1970s and 1980s it wasn’t unusual to encounter wild hares on the premises; I always used to enjoy watching them.

    I am still a regular visitor to Whipsnade; I generally go at least eight times annually but, sadly, haven’t seen a hare there for years.

    I would be very interested to know, please, if any anybody else has seen a hare at Whipsnade in recent years.
     
  2. rjh

    rjh New Member

    Joined:
    25 Jul 2010
    Posts:
    2
    Location:
    St Albans,England
    I used to see wild hares regularly upto about 2007 / 2008 and got some excellent photos but haven't seen any in the last few years.
     
  3. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Feb 2012
    Posts:
    1,871
    Location:
    England
    I saw a lone hare about 4 years ago, oddly on the lawn between the sealion house & discovery centre!
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    16,319
    Location:
    omnipresent
    I just had a google about the status of hares in the UK and was rather shocked at their decline!

    I found this page, which I would assume is reasonably accurate: Hare Preservation Trust

     
  5. hedigerfan

    hedigerfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    2 Nov 2009
    Posts:
    55
    Location:
    not available
    Probably not surprising, wild brown hares can still be seen in the Highland Wildlife Park, but a rapid assessment of their presence or absence in and around the UK's various rural collections may paint an interesting picture.
     
  6. AdamD601

    AdamD601 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    6 Feb 2012
    Posts:
    221
    Location:
    Bedfordshire
    I've definitely seen a few a couple of years ago in the Asian rhino paddocks but not the last year or two...
     
  7. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    16 Nov 2008
    Posts:
    1,500
    Location:
    London, England
    Thanks for the various responses.

    As I mentioned at the start of this thread, it was not unusual to see hares at Whipsnade in the 1970s / 80s.

    Hare numbers at Whipsnade appeared to decline during the 1990s and I've seldom seen them at Whipsnade since the turn-of-the-century.

    I haven't seen a hare there in recent years so it is interesting to know that both “pipaluk” and "AdamD601" have seen them within the last few years.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jul 2016
  8. Zoovolunteer

    Zoovolunteer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    4 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    160
    Location:
    Bristol,UK
    There is an interesting conservation issue with the Brown Hare in Britain - given that it appears to be an introduced species, probably by the Romans , what conservation actions should be taken? Does it compete with the original native species, the Mountain Hare now found in Scotland and Ireland, in a Grey/ Red squirrel fashion? Although we think of introduced animals as a feature of recent history, people have been moving and releasing animals outside their natural range probably since the Neolithic, and as a result there are many countries with wildlife which are in essence a kind of living archeology
     
  9. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    6,386
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    It does; the Mountain does not thrive in areas where the Brown is commonplace, as the latter is larger and able to outcompete them. As such, the Mountain - which despite its name is perfectly able to thrive in lowland habitats - is only found in such habitats in areas where the Brown is absent, for instance throughout Ireland.

    Although the Mountain Hare does cope better with mountainous terrain somewhat better than does the Brown, as they are significantly less fussy about the quality of their forage and as such can subsist on much scrubbier and woodier vegetation, this advantage is nonetheless outweighed by the size advantage held by the latter taxon. As such, the range of the Mountain Hare within the United Kingdom has been contracting over the last few centuries as Brown Hare have expanded their range; the last native population in Wales appears to have died off in the 1980's or early 1990's whilst the last native population in England, in the north Pennines, went extinct sometime in the early 20th century, whilst introduced populations in Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland which may had interbred with the last native individuals ultimately went extinct in the 1980's.

    However, in recent years there have been increasing numbers of reports indicating there may be a population of Mountain Hare in the northern Cheviots; as there are native populations just over the border in Scotland this *could* be a natural range expansion, or even a surviving English population which has lingered at the point of invisibility until now, but equally it is possible illicit introductions have taken place.