I like to walk the trails in Norris Geyser Basin when visiting Yellowstone National Park. One day, while I walked along a forested trail, I nodded at two people passing me going the opposite direction. Another person walked some distance ahead of me. All of them overlooked something alongside the trail. In fact, they missed it by a hare.
Can you spot what I saw near the trail?
Maybe everyone passing by was looking at this geyser on the other side of the trail and missed it.
I spotted a movement from a distance and stepped towards it for a closer look.
What is that? A new kind of rabbit? Maybe a pinto bunny?
When I looked through my binoculars, I figured it out. A snowshoe hare part way through changing from its winter coat to its summer one.
I was so excited by my discovery and wanted to point it out to other park visitors. Unfortunately, no one else passed by so I stood there quietly, taking in this unique sight alone.
Though we have visited Yellowstone many times, we had never seen snowshoe hares. We saw them in several locations in June of 2021. Had we overlooked them? Probably not.
Like other hares and rabbits, their populations peak in certain years. Snowshoe hares have 8-11 year cycles. The fluctuations may be related to the availability of food and how many predators are nearby. Lynx hunt snowshoe hares and their population levels go up in down in harmony with the hares’.
Those big ears help them detect predators. Their white fur color in the winter helps them hide in the snow, while the brown color helps them blend in once the snow has melted.
In early June, it was part way between seasons. There were still patches of snow in the park, so this hare could hide in plain sight. Still, I was surprised when other visitors walking the trail missed it by a hare.
Missed it by a hare story
Right after I saw the snowshoe hare, I started to write a short story about a creature that looked different from everyone else, but I never finished it. Seeing these pictures again has inspired me to finish this tale about an overlooked hare.