Hurry up and evolve

facts about snowshoe hares

If you need proof of evolution, it’s happening before our eyes.

Snowshoe hares living in Washington State historically turn white in winter to match the snow that used to be on the ground. This winter camouflage made it hard for predators, like wolves and cats, to see them.

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This bunny is camouflaged!

In the spring, when the snow melts, these same hares turn brown. Now they still blend in with their surroundings.

But climate change has obliterated snow in many parts of the world which were always snow covered previously. A portion of hares quickly adapted and they remain brown all year. But other hares, who still turn white, are in trouble.

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And this bunny is camouflaged!

Their white fur against a dark backdrop makes them highly visible. Climate change has turned them into sitting ducks. A white hare’s chance of surviving the winter drops seven percent every week that he stays white. The best hope for these hares is to mate with brown hares and give their offspring a better chance of inheriting the year-round brown gene.

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But this bunny is in trouble.

If you don’t care about hares (yes, I hear somebody saying, “It’s just a rabbit”), please know that the lynx species depends on hares for dinner. If the hare population crashes, the lynx population will starve and also crash.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in Zootopia where all animals live without fear of other animals. In our world, a rabbit is still prey.

The survival of snowshoe hares depends on humans. We must maintain large enough ranges that the adaptive hares can pass their genes to the still-white hares. And then we must pray that they hurry up and evolve.