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

2019-02-18 North Norfolk’s famous Bagot g North Norfolk’s famous Bagot goats head south for their latest job
Monday 18 February, 2019
Some of the famous North Norfolk Bagot goats have headed south to continue their valuable conservation and habitat-ma...
2019-01-30 World Wetlands Day – free entr World Wetlands Day – free entry at Cley!
Wednesday 30 January, 2019
We are opening our Cley and Salthouse Marshes nature reserve free of charge on Saturday 2 February in honour of World...
2019-01-16 Pensthorpe Bird and Wildlife F Pensthorpe Bird and Wildlife Fair to raise funds for NWT local wetland habitats
Wednesday 16 January, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has been named as the charity beneficiary of the Pensthorpe Bird and Wildlife Fair, taking pla...
2019-01-11 Western Link for NDR options a Western Link for NDR options are unacceptable, says NWT
Friday 11 January, 2019
None of the proposed routes for the NDR Western Link Road could be built without unacceptable damage to multiple i...
2018-12-21 Lost Words campaign success! Lost Words campaign success!
Friday 21 December, 2018
Acorns, willows and kingfishers will be appearing in every primary school in Norfolk, after a fundraising campaign re...
2018-12-20 NWT responds to Draft Environm NWT responds to Draft Environment Bill
Thursday 20 December, 2018
Norfolk Wildlife Trust calls for major improvements to the draft Environment Bill to put nature into recovery.  ...
2018-12-06 Longstanding volunteer wins Li Longstanding volunteer wins Lifetime Achievement Award at Stars of Norfolk
Thursday 06 December, 2018
Longstanding volunteer, Barry Watkins and his wife Claire (postumously) have won the Lifetime Achievement Award at th...
2018-12-03 New report shows nature-friend New report shows nature-friendly farmers boost recovery
Monday 03 December, 2018
A group of more than 40 cereal farmers are proving that it is possible to help nature recover and m...
2018-11-28 Pigneys Wood volunteers win pr Pigneys Wood volunteers win prestigious countryside award
Wednesday 28 November, 2018
A group of volunteers working at the Trust's newest nature reserve, Pigneys Wood, has won the prestigious CPRE No...
2018-11-27 Norwich clothes shop support t Norwich clothes shop support tops £20k for wildlife
Tuesday 27 November, 2018
A donation on Giving Tuesday to Norfolk Wildlife Trust means White Stuff Norwich has raised more than £20,000 t...
2018-11-20 Let's get nature book into eve Let's get nature book into every primary school in Norfolk
Tuesday 20 November, 2018
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is contributing £1,000 to the campaign to give a copy of The Lost Words by Robert Macfar...
2018-11-13 The Wildlife Trusts respond to The Wildlife Trusts respond to Godfray review of bTB eradication strategy
Tuesday 13 November, 2018
Huge disappointment at limitations of Bovine TB Strategy Review led by Sir Charles Godfray. The independent scientifi...