, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 305-312,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 02 May 2012

Survival and causes of death among released brown hares (Lepus europaeus Pallas, 1778) in Central Poland

Abstract

We describe the results of our research on population dynamics among brown hares reared in enclosures and then released into suitable natural habitat. Radio-tracking was used to follow the fate of 60 released brown hares over a 4-year period, extending between November 2005 and November 2009. The survival rate among these animals after 12 months was estimated to be 37 %, with 22 tagged individuals surviving beyond 1 year post-release. The highest (40 %) level of mortality characterised the first month after release, while a second period of enhanced mortality coincided with the breeding season (altogether accounting for a 20 % mortality rate). There was no significant relationship between body mass and mortality rate in the first month following release. A natural cause of death was predation by mammals, which accounted for some 31 % of all losses. Remaining causes were poaching (13 %), hits by vehicles (7 %) and unidentified causes (9 %). However, in at least 40 % of cases, it was not possible to determine the date when a released animal died, to say nothing of the cause of death.

Communicated by: Emerson Vieira