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After numerous days of torrential rains and relentless wind gusts, it’s refreshing to get a glimpse of blue in the sky.  Could winter’s fury finally be giving way to a calm resignation that its days are numbered?

Strong winds caused many tired and weakened trees to snap.  There seem to be even more diagonal lines in the forest. 

Rain water has gathered in the recesses beneath uprooted trees and in lower lying areas in the woods.  Known as vernal pools, these temporary wet areas not only provide animals with access to fresh drinking water, but also contribute to the biodiversity of the forest.  Amphibians thrive around these pools as do numerous varieties of mosses and grasses.  They will slowly dry up, but be filled again during subsequent rainstorms.

The rain melted all the snow, which is not at all good for snowshoe hares still wearing their winter white coats.  By contrasting more with the landscape, they become easier prey for foxes, coyotes and bobcats.  Hares will begin acquiring their brown coats later this month.  Until then, they’ll just have to keep a low profile and run a little bit faster if they want to survive until spring.

After every storm, the sun will smile;  for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.
~ William Alger

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Here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hopping down the bunny trail…
A hippity hop and a hippity hop,
And he’s on his way…

thesnare

There’s an art to setting a snare.  The key is to set it along a bunny trail.  No need for bait.   The rabbit or hare is simply captured as it hops along its regular path in the woods. 

Over the years I’ve come across several snares set up in the woods by trappers.  Many were cleverly arranged with branches that would prevent an unsuspecting hare from going anywhere but through the snare while travelling along the trail.  

Though snaring is illegal in many countries, Snowshoe Hares can be snared in Nova Scotia from November 1st to the last day of February.  Much snow falls during this time, making both animal and human tracks visible for some time afterwards.  It always bothered me when I’d see snares that were set before a snowfall, show no evidence of human activity anywhere nearby for long periods of time after the snow was on the ground. 

The cruelty was not in setting the snare (though many would consider this practice cruel enough), but in not checking it regularly once it was set.  If a snare isn’t frequently checked, some poor creature (not necessarily a hare) could die a slow painful death once caught.  Hopefully all snares will have long been removed from the woods by the time Peter Cottontail sets out on the bunny trail this year.

I hear a sudden cry of pain!
There is a rabbit in a snare:
Now I hear the cry again,
But I cannot tell from where.

But I cannot tell from where
He is calling out for aid!
Crying on the frightened air,
Making everything afraid!

Making everything afraid!
Wrinkling up his little face!
And he cries again for aid;
– and I cannot find the place!

And I cannot find the place
Where his paw is in the snare!
Little One! Oh, Little One!
I am searching everywhere!

~ The Snare by James Stephens 1882-1950

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