I have noticed a number of snowshoe hare tracks around my residence in Anchorage. I recently saw a snowshoe hare under a conifer with low branches surrounded by snow on the greenbelt. I checked the Alaska Department of Fish and Game webpage. The site's information seems to confirm the identification. In 18 years, this is the first time I have seen one of these animals in such close proximity to the residences.
Rick Merizon, Wildlife Biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game writes:
Yes, the snowshoe hare population is experiencing a high right now throughout Southcentral Alaska. We expect the population to fairly rapidly decline in the next 1-2 years throughout the Mat-Su and Anchorage. In Alaska, the hare high peaks north to south. As a result we’ve already documented a significant decline in hare densities in the Interior (Fairbanks, Delta, and Tok) and we expect that to occur locally soon.
Comments from LEO Editors:
Hare populations in Alaska grow and contract on a 10-year cycle, influenced by food availability and predation, although no one knows exactly makes the population crash. In an Alaska Fish & Wildlife News article, Tim Mowry describes the impact that snowshoe hare population fluctuations have on other parts of the ecosystem. During years when the population is high, snowshoe hares quickly consume much of the available vegetation, which can lead to overbrowsing. Population abundance also leads to increased predation as lynx, eagles, and coyotes produce more offspring. The abundance of predator species impacts other prey species such as Dall sheep, as described by Laura McCarthy. Erica Lujan