Regardless of what’s causing climate change and global warming, its effects are being felt all over, though you probably won’t be able to tell judging from the way I sweat when I’m mowing the lawn, because it seems to be the same bucket-full that it’s been since the early 1990s. Also, nothing scientific should ever be judged by my sweat, for everyone’s benefit. But shifts in weather patterns are becoming particularly brutal for the snowshoe hare, a species whose survival instincts have relied on its ability to change color and camouflage itself with the seasons. But now that everything is going hooey, their numbers are dropping, and they don’t even seem to realize the problem.
Wildlife biologist Alex Kumar, a graduate student at the University of Montana, and field technician Tucker Seitz have spent months tracking hares in the land outside Missoula, Montana. And they’re not alone, since the predator list for the small creature is pretty lengthy. Their existence is definitely a hare-owing one. (Sorry.) Snowshoe hares have evolved to change colors to match the seasons, giving them a leg up on their long-eared brethren. But it isn’t the actual weather that causes them to change colors. Their fur responds to changes in light, as the length of the days change. When the days are longer in the summer, the hares are brown and able to blend in with nature all around them. When the days get shorter in the winter, their fur turns white, which allows them to match up with their snowy surroundings. It’s hard to argue that this is a definite advantage the hare has over many others in the animal kingdom. A pink-polka-dotted legless hare would definitely have gotten the short end.