Snowshoe Hare, NPS photoSnowshoe Hare, USFWS photoSnowshoe Hare, USFS photo

Named for their large, heavily furred hind feet, snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are found in scattered populations throughout the Crown of the Continent. Camouflaged with white fur in the winter and a primarily brown coat in the summer, snowshoe hares prefer habitat with a dense understory of coniferous vegetation and available winter browse. Hares are prey for many species that inhabit the Crown. In particular, they are the favored prey of the federally threatened Canada lynx. The stability of the lynx is thought to be tied directly to the well-being of the snowshoe hare.

Along with the relationship between snowshoe hare numbers and lynx populations, recent research of snowshoe hares has been concerned with distribution and abundance of the species, as well as the impact of habitat fragmentation. Also, because of their seasonal coat color change, which is triggered by environmental cues such as photoperiod, hares have become an indicator for evaluating climate change effects. As snow accumulation occurs later each year, the transformation to white winter pelts before measureable snowfall makes snowshoe hares more susceptible to predation.