Wildlife Trusts join with University of East Anglia to identify cause of hare deaths


Thursday 11 October, 2018


Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Wildlife Trust are joining with the University of East Anglia to call for help to discover the cause of mysterious hare deaths in the region.
 
Over the past month, landowners, farmers and members of the public have been in contact to report sightings of obviously sick and dead hares.

As a result, the Wildlife Trusts are asking anyone seeing a freshly dead hare to record its location, photograph the entire animal – especially around the head  and bottom – and send the information to Dr Diana Bell at the University of East Anglia.

Dr Bell has recently been studying the impacts of diseases on rabbit populations, including myxomatosis and strains of hemorrhagic disease.

Dr Bell said: “Both Suffolk Wildlife Trust and I have been told about hares that have been found either dying or already dead at different sites around the county. The death of any animal is obviously distressing but we’re asking people to try and photograph these hares to help us understand what is happening. Getting good images of the bodies of these hares, along with their exact location, is crucial for us to rule out or identify possible diseases.”

East Anglia is a stronghold for brown hare, which have experienced a national decline of more than 80% in the past 100 years and are almost entirely absent from the south west of the country.

John Milton, head of nature reserves at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “The brown hare is such an iconic species and they are not only important as wildlife, but they also contribute to the habitat of areas like the Brecks with the wild grazing they do alongside rabbits. So this is potentially another concern for us along with the hemorrhagic disease which has been affecting our rabbits.”

One of the issues facing the species is an intensification of agriculture, which has limited their supply of food and habitat. There is also no closed season for hares, which means that they can be shot legally at any time of the year – including during breeding season.

Hares can be distinguished from rabbits in a number of ways. Hares are larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs and black-tipped ears that are as least as long as their heads.

Ben McFarland, Head of Conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “The reports of hare deaths are obviously of great concern, especially considering the importance of the populations in this region. We are monitoring all sites closely and asking anyone who sees an animal that is dead or unwell to get in touch.”

Have you seen a sick or dead hare? Please send a photograph of the hare (including its head and bottom ) to Dr Diana Bell at the University of East Anglia
Share this

Top news stories

2020-09-28 The Wildlife Trusts launch £30 The Wildlife Trusts launch £30 million appeal to kickstart nature’s recovery
Monday 28 September, 2020
Today The Wildlife Trusts launch 30 by 30, a public appeal to raise £30 million to start putting nature into re...
2020-09-26 Storm damage leads to closures Storm damage leads to closures at many NWT nature reserves
Saturday 26 September, 2020
The strong winds and rain this weekend have meant many Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves have been closed, or ha...
2020-09-25 Volunteers from Chartered Fina Volunteers from Chartered Financial Planners Clear Broads
Friday 25 September, 2020
The team at Smith & Pinching had a slightly different office for the day. Working in partnership with Norfolk Wil...
2020-09-18 Events programme to be reduced Events programme to be reduced
Friday 18 September, 2020
We are reducing the number of events this autumn as a precautionary measure and to comply with Government guidelines....
2020-09-17 Call for a new designation – W Call for a new designation – Wildbelt – to allow nature’s recovery 
Thursday 17 September, 2020
New analysis of the Government’s White Paper, Planning for the Future, has revealed that, as they currently sta...
2020-09-15 Volunteers receive warm welcom Volunteers receive warm welcome back
Tuesday 15 September, 2020
Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s volunteers do amazing things for wildlife, from surveying wild areas to improve local ...
2020-09-02 NDR Western Link: Norfolk Wild NDR Western Link: Norfolk Wildlife Trust will object
Wednesday 02 September, 2020
Norfolk Wildlife Trust will strongly object to any planning application for the Western Link and has written to the D...
2020-09-01 Biodiversity audit aims to cat Biodiversity audit aims to catalogue every wildlife species on north Norfolk coast
Tuesday 01 September, 2020
A huge biodiversity audit to catalogue the north Norfolk coast’s wildlife, in a similar way to the 2010 Brecks ...
2020-08-31 Can you find these fantastic f Can you find these fantastic finches?
Monday 31 August, 2020
This autumn we'd love you to record sightings of three finches in Norfolk: greenfinch, chaffinch and goldfinch in...
2020-08-12 Cley Calling Remotely: NWT pre Cley Calling Remotely: NWT presents new season of digital wildlife discussions
Wednesday 12 August, 2020
An autumn programme of wildlife discussions will be available to watch online for free as Norfolk Wildlife Trust welc...
2020-07-29 Illegal bike course removed fr Illegal bike course removed from SSSI
Wednesday 29 July, 2020
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has this morning removed a bike course that was illegally constructed at NWT Syderstone Common...
2020-07-15 Coronavirus update: Norfolk Wi Coronavirus update: Norfolk Wildlife Trust opens Cley Marshes visitor centre
Wednesday 15 July, 2020
A ‘brew, a loo and a view’ as Norfolk Wildlife Trust reopens the visitor centre at its flagship nature re...