Brown Hare Original Art
Original Painting Medium: Pastel
Scientific Name: Lepus europaeus
Region: United Kingdom
'Mad as a March Hare' refers to the boxing antics of hares during Springtime. All wildlife is special; especially the Brown Hare, and I can totally understand why hares have fascinated people over the years. Hares are handsome creatures and the hare in my painting was a pleasure to portray. My Brown Hare portrait was painted using pastels and I look forward to portraying more hare artworks in the not too distant future.
During the Springtime a male hare, known as a buck, can often be seen chasing a female, called a doe. If the female is unreceptive: in order to defend herself, she will sometimes retaliate by standing on her hind legs and appear to engage in a boxing fight with the buck. I look forward in particular to portraying two hares boxing.
The Brown Hare is the harbinger of Spring and is held in high esteem by many people. For hundreds of years there have been many old customs and beliefs associated with hares; to country folk they were mystical and mysterious. Hares are also portrayed in churches and cathedrals. Beautiful carvings and drawings often depict a hare sat gazing up at the moon.
An animal of open country, the hare lives exclusively above ground foraging over grassland, seeking shelter and laying low during the day in a 'form' - a shallow depression under cover. Hares moves along definite routes in a certain area within their own territory and may have several forms within this area. Brown Hares are herbivores and eat mainly grass; they can be seen all year round on arable farmland, marshland and in woodland and are more likely to seen early in the morning or after dusk.
Between May and July the leverets are born covered in hair and with their eyes open. The young do not remain in the nest for very long as the female takes them out into the home territory and then leaves them, paying only occasional visits for feeding. Hares reach independence more quickly than the rabbit, whose young are protected underground.
The hare is a shy but alert animal, with a sensitive nose, large eyes and mobile ears. It can detect danger instantly and with long powerful hind legs can run at speeds of up to 40mph and outrun and escape most predators such as birds of prey, foxes, and stoats. Hares rarely live longer than three or four years.
The Brown Hare is found in most parts of Britain, is rare in Ireland, and absent from the Scottish Highlands. After the water vole, it is the species of mammal in Britain that has undergone the greatest decline in numbers. The Brown Hare has now been added to the list of vulnerable species for which a UK Biodiversity Action Plan was written in the early 1990s, aimed at doubling their numbers by 2010.
Despite this and until only recently, hares continued to be shot, hunted and coursed across the UK simply for 'fun and sport'. Unlike all other 'game' species, there was no close season. Thousands were shot annually in 'hare drives' and it is estimated that around a thousand hares a year were killed at organised coursing meets, the main event being the Waterloo Cup held in February.
Hares are beautiful creatures, they are vulnerable and need protection. In England, Brown hares now have legal protection but in Ireland 'hare coursing' still continues.