The Mountain or Blue Hare (Lepus variabilis), Fig. 63, is distinguished from the common hare by its shorter ears, notched upper grinder, smaller size, less speed, changing its colour to white in winter, and having only two broods in the year. It is confined to mountainous regions, such as the Highlands of Scotland. In comparatively unwooded tracts the blue hares flock from all the neighbouring hilly districts to young plantations of larch, pine, and spruce, and cut off all growth within reach above the snow-line, not sparing the leaders of young trees or even stems, those of three or more years age being girdled, and the plantation ruined as regards producing timber. Indeed, it is impossible to rear plantations with the object of growing timber unless they are made proof against hares for several years after planting, particularly in moorland and hilly districts.

The Mountain or Blue Hare.

Fig. 63. - The Mountain or Blue Hare.