The following was originally posted in the January 2013 Nature Notes, Heartland Outdoor School’s newsletter:

The snowshoe hare is a rare, but exciting animal to have in Ohio. These hares have been in Ohio for thousands of years, but in the 1700-1800s they were hunted so heavily that they were extirpated (pushed out) from Ohio by the early 1900s. Snowshoe hares are known for their bright white coat in the winter and short, fuzzy brown coat in the summer. They get their name from their back feet that are almost 7” long! That’s pretty big for an animal that’s only around 15-20 inches long from head to tail. Those big feet act like snowshoes in the winter so the hares don’t fall through the soft snow. Their main predator is the lynx, but we don’t have any of those here in Ohio. We have foxes, bobcats, and raptors that hunt them for food. What’s really cool is that biologists in Ohio went to Michigan and caught a bunch of snowshoe hares to release in northeastern Ohio. Since 2000, about 400 snowshoe hares have been released. As far as biologists can tell, the hares are successfully reproducing. This is very important since snowshoe hares only live 1-1.5 years in the wild. If you are ever in Ashtabula County in the far northeastern corner of Ohio, keep a lookout for this cute endangered animal. As long as we respect nature, people for many generations will get to enjoy Ohio’s natural wonders.

 

References

Snowshoe Hare. A to Z Species Guide. ODNR Division of Wildlife. Retrieved January 4, 2013.

Snowshoe Hare. Ohio History Central, August 4, 2005. Retrieved January 4, 2013.

Ware, Andy. Snowshoe Hare Reintroduction Program Continues in Northeastern Ohio. Ohio Department of Natural Resources. March 6, 2003. Retrieved January 4, 2013.