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Motorists beware - of mad March hares

This is an archived press release

Thursday 17 March 2005

17 March 2005

Motorists beware - of mad March hares

Conservationists are appealing for motorists to be extra careful on a Peak District moorland road after four rare mountain hares were killed in one week - and eight since January.

The hares - still in their winter white coats - were run over on a 40mph stretch from Ringinglow to Stanage, which many commuters use between Hathersage and Sheffield.

Peak District National Park land agent Matthew Croney said: "They seem to be crossing the road in two places near Burbage Bridge and getting caught by passing traffic. Four killed in one week is reaching disastrous proportions and we'd appeal to drivers to take extra care, especially at night."

The Peak District contains the only mountain hares in Britain outside Scotland and the Isle of Man. They are descended from animals released for hunting in Victorian times. While not on the endangered list, their numbers are in the low thousands, and they are a distinctive animal with which the Peak District is identified.

In the summer months their coats revert to brown, and when threatened they can achieve speeds of up to 60km an hour.

Peak District National Park ecology manager Rhodri Thomas said: "This highly attractive animal is found mainly on the Peak District's Northern moors, and lately we've been pleased to find it has been expanding onto the Eastern moors. However, if they're being killed on this road it could form a barrier to them spreading further."

This is an archived press release

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