Für die Menschen. Für Westfalen-Lippe.

Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens

AG Säugetierkunde in NRW

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European hare

Rote Liste NRW: V Vorwarnliste

Lepus europaeus




Foto: Jan Ole Kriegs
Unlike the European Rabbit, the European Hare lives exclusively above ground. It spends periods of rest in a so-called "form" — a self-scratched, shallow depression. It does not live in clans or colonies but to a certain extent as a loner, more or less evenly distributed over the landscape. Most likely during the beginning of the mating season in December/January, we have transient associations of bucks and does which can then also be observed during the daytime. Otherwise, the hare is predominantly nocturnal. The number of hares occurring in an area can be determined from about October to March by nocturnal spotlighting of open spaces with handheld lamps from the dirt roads from a slow-moving vehicle during minimal growth. After a gestation period of about 6 weeks, the doe gives birth to about 3 young hares. This occurs three times in the period from February to August (September). Unlike the European Rabbit, they are developed relatively far, densely furred and with full sight. As an original inhabitant of the steppe and synanthropic species, the European Hare in NRW populates especially agriculturally used lowland areas. It is also distributed in forested higher altitudes but at lower density. They prefer open, precipitation-poor areas with dry-warm loose soils and a diverse land use subdivided into small parcels of fields, meadows, pastures and fallow land. Increasingly more juvenile hares are lost through diseases, agricultural work — especially the so-called mowing death on intensively used grassland — and natural predators. Currently, in some so-called reference hunting grounds in NRW, an average net rate of increase of 11% was recorded from spring to autumn. A broad spectrum of diseases and causes of death was reported from adult European Hares either found dead or shot. Cases of Tularemia Bacterium Francisella tularensis) have greatly increased, especially in Münsterland, in the Soester Börde and in Eastern Westphalia-Lippe. The role of diseases in the decline of hare populations once again observed in NRW is still uncertain. This is also true for possible effects of fermentation residues and other fertilizers as well as plant pesticides, for example: the herbicide Glyphosat or novel insecticides (Neonicotinoids). Without a doubt, the continuous intensification of agriculture with larger and larger structurally impoverished units of land, intensively fertilized, densely and tall growing arable crops with unfavourable, dark and humid microclimate, eliminating of fallow lands, is disadvantageous for the European Hare and for many other of the open landscape species.,Examples are the increase of maize cultivation as an energy plant for biogas systems, nocturnal mowing and 4 to 5 cuts for grassland with faster and wider mowing machines, as well as the loss of habitat in favour of resource extraction, human settlements and infrastructure. During the last 10 years, the number of hares hunted in NRW declined by two-thirds to 66,985 European Hares (including 15,036 natural and accidental deaths) in the hunting season of 2013/14 — by far the lowest post-war record.


Jürgen Eylert


Eylert J (2023): Feldhase (Lepus europaeus).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/27



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