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How far do hares go?

One of the hares in the study, wearing a tracking collar around its neck and ID tags on its ears

Charline Couchoux

Contrary to what experts previously thought, hares do not only live in the area they were born. They can actually migrate a very long distance. Dominique Berteaux, an ecologist from the University of Quebec, Canada, and his colleagues placed trackers on 25 arctic hares (Lepus arcticus), with surprising results: they traveled between 113 and 310 kilometers (km). But none of the study participants came close to the hare labeled BBYY, which migrated 388 km, the longest distance ever recorded for hares, rabbits, and similar species. The adventurous hare died of undetermined causes about a month after arriving at its destination. The researchers believe exploring the landscape allows hares to find new food sources or refuge against predators, outweighing the downsides of relocation. Arctic hares are about the size of a domestic cat (approximately 4 kilograms) and are one of the preferred prey of wolves in the polar deserts of the Arctic (Ecology, December 22).