Sadly the title of this blog post is very literal. Late on an evening this week Matt and I were driving back home when we spotted a Brown Hare by the side of the road. We knew immediately that something must be wrong as it wasn’t moving, but we when circled back, we saw that it wasn’t dead as initially supposed.
Chucking the hazard lights on, we went over for a closer inspection which confirmed our thoughts that something had to be seriously wrong as the hare did not even attempt to move away. If it had been a rabbit, our guess would have been myxomatosis. I’ve since learnt that although hares don’t get myxomatosis, they can be vectors for it.
With no plastic gloves with which to handle it, I resorted to using my jumper to pick it up. Again no attempt to move or escape, but it was definitely alive. We jumped back into the car and sped (although not over the speed limit of course) home, during which time it urinated on me – lovely!
We weren’t entirely sure what to do with it next, neither of us having had much experience with injured wild animals. We popped into a cardboard box with some water, and closed the door so that Mowgli (the cat) wouldn’t get to it and scare it even more. I phoned the RSPCA, and with all the local vets being closed, an officer was despatched out to us.
Sometime later, the RSPCA officer turned up, having somehow managed to actually find our little cottage in the middle of nowhere. Upon inspection, it was revealed that there was a large swelling and the pelvis was shattered beyond possibility of healing, probably due to being hit by a car.With such an awful injury, the hare was put down humanely by the RSPCA officer.
I won’t lie, I did find it very upsetting. Some of you may question why, since I deal with skulls and have dead birds awaiting taxidermy in my freezer. I suppose it is because I had seen the hare alive and worried over it. I knew that putting it down was the right thing to do, and although it was upsetting, I knew that I had down the right thing (in terms of animal welfare) by picking it up. It would have had a very slow (and cold because it was a very very cold night) death.
Despite the sad outcome, the experience was a little bit exciting at the same time. I had never been so close to a hare before, let alone having picked one up! They are absolutely huge! Of course, I knew they were big animals – rabbits have nothing on them, but it was still very much larger than I thought. And so utterly beautiful.
To end, I shall put up a nice photo of a hare that I saw last summer at Chesil Beach from the Fleet Observer boat. Albeit that this photo makes me a little sad because look at how much litter there is on the beach!!