CIMG0720What I call a jackrabbit – those brown leggy critters that move like curly greased lightning across a field – is called a lièvre around these parts, or a European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) to give its proper name. I’ve seen them plenty of times. I saw these lièvre tracks in the fresh snow yesterday, unscrolling right next to an electrified fence like an erratic heartbeat. At the other end of this trail, right about where my phone camera succumbed to the cold, the hopper actually dared to cross the fence line, loop around a couple of times, and cross back exactly where it had gone in, as if it knew the location of the safe spot all along.

Hare populations were in steady decline up through the 1970s across Europe, and although the animal is considered common and not endangered for the most part, its presence is seen as in important indicator of overall environmental health. It is considered threatened in Switzerland due to habitat reduction, but changes in agricultural strategies – the planting of more winter wheat and better adapted cereal types, for example – might be one reason the hare population is not as low as it might be in other countries. The increased availability of better grains throughout winter might offset other losses due to habitat pressure, disease, predators and hunting.

European brown harePhoto: 123RF

European brown hare
Photo: 123RF

Wild Boar Tracks

Boar tracks Photo: PK Read

Boar tracks
Photo: PK Read

I’m perfectly content with finding only the tracks of wild boar on yesterday’s run, rather than stumbling across the boar (Sus scrofa) themselves. This is one of those cases where I am glad to live in an area that boasts plenty of wildlife, including the large and aggressive sanglier, but I’d prefer to view them only at a distance while they are still on the hoof. In any case, my hope is that my super-bright, unnaturally pink and orange running jacket will keep both the boars and their hunters at a safe distance from me.

Wild boar populations are said to be robust in our area, and given that I’ve seen a couple of large sounders of boar in suburban areas over the past few years  – fortunately, from the safety of my car – I can imagine that there are far more of them higher up in the Jura mountains.

Impressive what a small group can do to a planted field, and probably in a very short span of time. I’ve read that the fields are attractive during wet winter months, when the boar snout around in them for easy insects and worms.