A fresh cover of snow on the ground usually reveals where snowshoe hares have been travelling. Their numerous tracks often overlap in the woods where ‘bunny trails’ lead to and from favorite resting and feeding areas. But not this year. There isn’t a snowshoe hare track to be found.
It’s been several months since I’ve caught sight of a single hare in the yard or along the Salt Marsh Trail. Up until this past summer, it seemed like their numbers were growing. They were visible on lawns and in the woods and parks. However, snowshoe hare populations are known to rise and fall, usually every ten years or so. This phenomenon takes place all across Canada. In northern regions, their cycle coincides with that of the lynx.
Over the past year, bobcats have been sighted in Cow Bay. Like the lynx, they too prey on snowshoe hares, as do coyotes, foxes and eagles. With so many predators in the area, as well as loss of habitat due to deforestation, it’s no wonder that hare numbers are low.
Another factor that may have affected hare populations is that we didn’t have snow until recently, making any hares sporting winter coats easy targets for predators. Hare coloring becomes whiter as daylight hours decrease in number.
Next month, February 3rd will mark the first day of the Chinese New Year. The 12 year cycle of animal years makes this coming year one of the rabbit. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be seeing many bunnies this year. At least not in Cow Bay.
Each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle.
~ Marcus Aurelius