Where does the Easter Bunny live? Citizens can report sightings of wild rabbits and brown hares

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Rabbit. Photo: Ulrich von dem Esche
Rabbit. Photo: Ulrich von dem Esche

Wildlife researchers ask for help in recording brown hares and wild rabbits including in villages and cities

Just in time for Easter, the Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Freiburg and the Wildlife Research Center of the State of Baden-Württemberg at the Baden-Württemberg Agricultural Center (LAZBW) in Aulendorf are calling on all interested parties to go in search of rabbits or more precisely, brown hares and wild rabbits, which are colloquially known as bunnies. From April 11 to 24, 2022, citizens can report sighted wild animals via the app or online platform. The campaign will be accompanied by an online lecture on the two species on April 7, 2022. It is open to the general public.

"Brown hare and wild rabbit are character species of the surrounding area. If the habitat and weather conditions are right, the species can reach higher densities," says Dr. Johanna Arnold from the Wildlife Research Center at the LAZBW in Aulendorf, a sub-agency of the Ministry of Food, Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection. Brown hares have been counted there for more than two decades. "In 2021, there were the most brown hares in Baden-Württemberg since we started recording them," Arnold reports. The reason for this may be, among other things, the warmer and drier climate, which is more favorable for the brown hares.

"Brown hares and wild rabbits are both native to our region and also occur in residential areas," says Geva Peerenboom , a member of the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg. The two animals often get confused, the forest scientist says. Brown hares are larger, taller-legged, have longer ears and bright eyes, she said. The smaller, dark-eyed wild rabbits, on the other hand, often appear in groups, she said. "The goal of the campaign is to learn more about the distribution and habitat of the two species in Baden-Württemberg," Peerenboom says.

At best at twilight

Good chances to observe wild rabbits can be found in small gardens, parks, cemeteries and sports fields. Hares can be found grazing on grassland, fields and meadows. Both species are diurnal, but are best observed at twilight. Anyone who wants to participate is cordially invited to report their own observations of brown hares and wild rabbits from April 11 to 24, 2022, via the "Wildtiere" (Wildlife) app or the "Wilde Nachbarn Baden-Württemberg" (Wild Neighbors Baden-Württemberg) Internet portal.

Online lecture on April 7, 2022

For this year’s Easter campaign, the scientists at the University of Freiburg are collaborating with the Wildlife Research Center. The action is accompanied by a joint free online lecture aimed at the general public. On April 7, 2022, starting at 6:15 p.m., Arnold and Peerenboom will speak on the topic "Wo die langen Ohren wohnen - Feldhase und Wildkaninchen in Baden-Württemberg" (Where the bunnies live - brown hare and wild rabbit in Baden-Württemberg). Registration is required at: https://kommunikation.u­ni-freibur­g.de/go/Re­gistration

 Animals in residential areas

The online platform "Wilde Nachbarn Baden-Württemberg" (Wild Neighbors Baden-Württemberg) was launched as part of the project "Wildtiere im Siedlungsraum Baden-Württemberg" (Wildlife in the Residential Areas of Baden-Württemberg) by the Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management at the University of Freiburg. It is supported by the Ministry of Food, Rural Areas and Consumer Protection with funds from the state hunting tax. The web portal is maintained in cooperation with the StadtNatur association. It contains a wealth of information on animals in urban areas and offers the opportunity to report observations of other wildlife throughout the year.

Speaking of monitoring wildlife

Wildlife monitoring is the continuous and structured recording, observation and monitoring of wildlife species and their habitats with the aim of implementing specific wildlife management measures to control wildlife populations and their habitats and to check their effectiveness. The brown hare is counted by volunteers from the hunting community in cooperation with the Landesjagdverband (State Hunting Association) using a scientific method called spotlight taxation in currently more than 190 reporting areas.