On the evening of 6 June I counted two Snowshoe Hares on the Bolton Road Hare transect, but I couldn't count this Hare - it was south of the transect - almost where the gravel road named "Kyle Road" meets the equally narrow but paved "Branch Road".
This Hare saw me and hesitated, then dashed right in front as if he were on a suicide mission. I didn't brake too hard for fear of spinning out on the gravel, so I was surprised to feel no bump. A split second later, out of the corner of my eye I saw him spin around beside the van, and when I glanced in the rear view mirror there he was sitting in the middle of the road behind me, looking as saucy as a jaybird. It seemed to me that he was challenging me to a chase, or perhaps watching to see the van lose control and slide into the ditch - like others had before?
Hares are intelligent, and this is a good year for green growing things, and for creatures that eat green growing things. Hare populations are on an upswing, but not high yet, so life must be pretty good - even time for sports, like challenging cars!
We have been recording Snowshoe Hare observations along the southern end of Bolton Road (formerly Cristman Road) in Grenville County, Ontario, since the early '90's, and have a NatureJournal data sheet for those who regularly drive Bolton Road south. It explains the 10 - 11 year cycle in Hares, its relationship to the sun spot cycle, and is set up with tick boxes to record observations. The Hare cycle is the most spectacular multi-year pattern that occurs in Canada, but everyone is totally silent about it, as if it wasn't national news! Perhaps it happens over too long a period of time for commercial people to notice. It involves incredible abundances, spectacular population crashes, fascinating correlations with other phenomena - what more do they want!
Fred has written an article about ten year cycles in boreal wildlife. See Nonfibre Values .
I will send a stack of datasheets to anyone who is interested.