'Could cruel disease lead to extinction of our hares?'

Myxomatosis has been found in brown hares for the first time. See letter
Myxomatosis has been found in brown hares for the first time. See letter

Letters: I wrote earlier in the year about the mountain hares population falling due to habitat destruction and killing by land owners.

Now myxomatosis has been found in brown hares in East Anglia.

When this terrible disease was introduced, it killed 99 per cent of rabbits in a couple of years.

The disease originates from South American hares, and was introduced to rabbits by us, but had not affected brown hares previously.

Because the numbers of hares are a fraction of what rabbits ever were, if hares are infected in the same rate as rabbits, it could cause their extinction because a potential survivor won’t find a mate.

There is no restriction on hunting hares at any time of the year. Their small numbers and territorial behaviour means they aren’t a pest.

How bland will our countryside become tomorrow?

S Hunter

via email