The brown hare is a larger, more athletic relative of the rabbit. It is able to adapt to a variety of habitats and so is one of the most widely distributed land animals in the world.

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Hares and Humans

Hares have been hunted by humans for centuries both for meat and sport. They were once very common in pastures and ploughed fields but over recent years their numbers have declined drastically in many areas. Mountain hares are native to the UK, and are now largely restricted to Scotland, but brown hares were, like rabbits, introduced and are estimated to number about 800,000 this is a decline from around 4 million a century ago. 

Hares' decline is most likely due to a reduction in suitable habitat because of housing developments and new roads; also farm machinery, such as mowers, killing leverets - and perhaps insecticides too. Another serious threat is the use of herbicides (weedkillers) in crop fields which kill many wild plants the hares need for a nutritional diet.  Since 2019, it has also been discovered that hares in the UK are also at risk from rabbit virus. The rabbit virus is known to have made the leap to European brown hares in countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Australia.

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