Arctic Hare :
Satellite tracking to trace the behavior of animals is common to understand the animals better, and such tracking can sometimes surprise scientists in unimaginable ways.
Scientists in the Arctic region of Canada had satellite-tagged some 25 wild Arctic hares that were captured near the northern region of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada.
On their release, the researchers began tracking their movement across the freezing tundra region. And some Hares were recorded covering distances between 113-310 kilometers which was quite impressive.
But one Arctic hare named ‘BBYY’ stunned the researchers by traveling a whopping 388 kilometers in 49 days (7 weeks). This Arctic Hare’s adventure is the longest distance ever recorded among hares, rabbits, or other close relative species. The report was published in Ecology.
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As these hares are one of the most important parts of the tundra’s ecosystem (Arctic food web), mammalian ecologist Dominique Berteaux of the Université du Québec à Rimouski initiated the study of these creatures across the arid landscape.
“As the hares swiftly hopped away, the researchers had no idea the creatures were beginning a mind-blowing expedition across the tundra,” said Berteaux.
This Arctic hare traveled 388 km in a span of 49 days which is a huge accomplishment relative to its size.
And during the journey, this Arctic hare needed to find food while evading the eyes of the Arctic predators like the Arctic Fox, Red Fox, Gray Wolves, Canadian Lynx, Snowy Owls, Gyrfalcons, Peregrine Falcons, and Rough-legged Hawks.
Arctic Hares in winter dig through the snow cover in search of leaves, lichens, woody plants, and mosses. They are the largest species of the family called lagomorphs.
However, the researchers confirmed BBYY died of an unknown cause one month after reaching its destination. But the gathered data would provide more detail about the polar desert ecosystem.
“It’s exciting to find something unsuspected in an animal that we thought we know quite well,” Berteaux added.