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North Merseyside Biodiversity Action Plan
Brown Hare Lepus europaeus
1 Current status
Whilst still a relatively common species, the brown hare has undergone a population decline from the end of the 19th century. A post-war increase in numbers was followed by a severe decline from the1960s to 1980s when the population appeared to stabilise.
The first national hare survey carried out by Bristol University estimated the prebreeding population to be around 800,000, approximately 20% of the Victorian era. The study concluded that the decline was faster and more severe in the western pastoral regions of the country.
Game bag figures indicate a decline in the number of hares shot between 1961 and 2004 across the UK but show a general increase between 1995 and 2004 in England. The decline across Wales appears to continue.
There is no population estimate for North Merseyside. However, hares are commonly found on farmland throughout the area.
Consistent with national trends, populations are likely to have declined. Agrienvironmental schemes have had a good take up, particularly in the north of St Helens Borough. This should assist with hare conservation.