Snowshoe hare on rebound in Yukon as cycle continues

Biologists in Yukon say the snowshoe hare population should peak in a few years as part of its nine to 10 year cycle.
The snowshoe hare population bottomed out a couple of years ago and is now climbing. (Yukon Gov't)

The snowshoe hare population in Yukon is on the upswing and should peak in a few years.

The manager of biodiversity programs for Environment Yukon, Todd Powell, says the species goes through nine to 10 year cycles and has been relatively low for the past couple of years.

Biologists monitor the population of snowshoe hares by counting their fecal pellets at plots around the territory. They're located in Mayo, Faro, Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Kluane.

Powell says the plots are showing a rebound.

(Yukon government)

"Well, given what we have seen in the past couple of cycles, now it looks like we are going to see increasing densities year over year, most likely, and by 2016-2017 we should see another peak in their cycle again," he said.

Powell says predators are one of the factors in the cycle of the population.

"It's stress from being focused on as a hare. Everything eats hares out there: lynx, fox, coyotes, wolves, wolverines, owls, goshawks. Lots and lots of predators love hares," he said.

Powell says food availability and climate change can also affect numbers.