Hunt sightings as a tool for monitoring the distribution and abundance of brown hare Lepus europaeus in UK agricultural landscapes
Kilshaw K., Sellers P., Baker SE., Macdonald DW., Johnson PJ.
We examined the potential of hare sightings data, collected during hunts by the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles, as a possible monitoring tool for the European brown hare Lepus europaeus. The relationship between land use and both temporal trends, and spatial patterns, in brown hare sightings across England and Wales was examined using data collected between the 1985/86 and 2004/05 hunting seasons. Hare sightings increased significantly during this period, with an average increase of 2. 81 hare sightings per hunting day across all hunts since 1985. Sightings were more frequent in eastern England, where arable land is abundant, than in the rest of England and Wales which is predominantly pastoral. There was no correlation between temporal trends in hare sightings and land use change. Patterns observed using the hunt sighting data are similar to those reported by other concurrent studies that used different methods. We conclude that hunt sightings could contribute useful data to a national monitoring scheme. © 2010 Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Bialowieza, Poland.