Prairie hares (also known as white-tailed jackrabbits) can be found throughout much of western Canada. They typically weigh 3 - 4 kilograms.
Their fur colour changes from brownish-grey in the summer to white in the winter and will live up to eight years. As their name implies, their tail remains white throughout the year.
Hares are nocturnal. In the daytime, they rest in shallow holes in the earth, often beneath vegetation.
They feed on most broadleaved plants and grasses and will browse on buds, bark and small twigs during the winter when green vegetation is unavailable.
They can run at speeds of up to 55 kilometres per hour and leap distances of up to five metres.
Hares are a solitary animal, opting to only form groups during mating season (from February to July).
Females give birth to one to four litters annually, averaging four to five newborns per litter. The babies weigh 90 to 100 grams at birth and are fully weaned by the time they reach one month of age.
Hares can do considerable damage to gardens and yards, especially during late autumn and early spring when food supplies are low.
To prevent damage you can erect physical barriers around areas that are an issue. Using either poultry mesh or hardware cloth, place the barrier 10 centimetres into the ground and up to one metre above the potential snow line. Avoid wrapping the barrier tightly around trees, as the hares will simply eat through it.
Repellents are another option. Repellents make plants distasteful. Apply them in late fall when the leaves have fallen and the bark on the tree is dry. The air temperature should be above freezing for application. Do not apply to plants grown for human or animal consumption as repellent-treated plants are inedible.
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