- The hare’s coat changes from a reddish brown to white, depending on the season, to help the animal adapt to seasonal changes in its habitat.
- Lack of snow and ground cover during Michigan winters makes snowshoe hares an easy target for predators.
- According to a study by Michigan State University, the hare population in the Lower Peninsula has declined by nearly 50%.
The Need for Management
While the snowshoe hare is not considered a threatened or endangered species, a 2014 Michigan State University study showed a nearly 50% population drop in the Lower Peninsula. Climate change has taken a toll on the snowshoe hare as well as other species in Michigan. When winters are warmer, snow is less likely to form. This lack of snow and ground cover makes snowshoe hares an easy target for predators while their fur is white in the winter.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan United Conservation Clubs formed a partnership to help protect the snowshoe hare from predators. MUCC volunteers create more horizontal ground cover for hares through partial cutting of older trees and removing undergrowth that fuels wildfires. These practices not only create a safe space for hares but also contribute to keeping forests healthy. The sale of hunting licenses provides funding for wildlife management practices such as these.
Conservation of the snowshoe hare population revolves around:
- The Michigan DNR’s partnership with MUCC – a nonprofit organization working to support and protect Michigan’s natural resources.
- Creating horizontal cover for snowshoe hares by partially cutting trees.