Monday, 19 October 2009

Volunteering for the Hare Preservation Trust

A short while ago I took up a new position as the Business Development Manager for the Hare Preservation Trust.
The Trust was founded by Rodney Hale to raise awareness about hares as well as to lobby for increased legal protection of hares in Parliament.

an orphan baby hare - known as a Leveret - being handraised
photo is by Sean Hunter, copyright reserved

Everyone who works for the Trust is a volunteer and 100% of all monies raised go towards it's running and the political campaigning on behalf of these amazing and ethereal beings.

My watercolour portrait of a hare. Currently in the McCrea Gallery for sale.
Rodney comes from a family of bloodsport enthusiasts and as a teenager witnessed a hare crying like a human baby after it had been shot. That was the turn of the tide for him and several years later he attended a presentation by the League Against Cruel Sports in Exeter on hare coursing which was absolutely horrific and he has never seen so many grown men and women in the audience reduced to tears.
This was what finally made him found the HPT, then known as the British Brown Hare Preservation Society. Rodney makes sure that it caters for all constructive interests in hares with a website, newsletters and bulletins. As Chairman he does the political lobbying, currently with The Protection of Hares Bill.
Protection thru legislation is really the only chance the hare has of a life free from persecution and cruelty by humans. If the legislation is in place then prosections can take place, but without this protection the hare has a raw deal. As do many other well loved country-side animals and birds.
Unfortunately persecution is widespread and fuelled by the shooting and game industry. Untimely and painful, lingering death comes from snares, shooting, illegal coursing (unfortunately still legal in Northern Ireland! -graphic image on this link - the Irish hare does not have full permanent protection rights and another reason why sight hound racing should be banned) and shock/trauma from previous incidents.

The League Against Cruel Sports is a UK based organisation that aims to rid society of cruel blood sports and end animal suffering in the name of sport.
One major campaign is for a UK wide ban on snares. Please take action by following that link. There is a link further down for Scottish residents.
Currently 'free-running' snares are still legal in mainland UK. The self-locking snares are illegal. The free-running versions have no ratchet and should (in theory) slacken when the animal stops pulling! However if the wire is rusted, kinked or entangled in vegetation or becomes twisted as the animal thrashes then it acts like a self-locking one. Metal does not demur to technicalities!
If you live in Scotland you can take action by supporting the Ban Snares Campaign which is being supported by the Edinburgh based Advocates for Animals, which will seek a total ban on the use, manufacture and sale of all types of snare. Please sign the petition to ask your MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) to ban snares.
Mother with leverets at feeding time - which lasts about 50 seconds, once a day.
Also on exhibition in the McCrea Gallery.
Hares have inspired artists from time immemorial. They have been steeped in mythology and legend and worldwide are symbols for fertility and femininity. Terri Windling has written a comprehensive and fascinating account of rabbits and hares thru the ages and across cultures.
I have always loved hares and am lucky enough to have two rescue rabbits who live with me, Arabella and Wesley. Arabella is the most hare-like rabbit I have ever known and she has very few typical rabbit traits, resembling instead more of a hare in her postures and habits. When I first saw her at the rescue centre we took our first rescue rabbit Zai to, to choose a partner, I was fascinated by her countenance! Not once did she attempt to dig in the dirt like the other does and at all times she held her head high and sniffed the wind, moving only slightly. She even stood like a hare! I was so taken with her that when Zai went up to her and licked her on the nose I knew she was the one.

When I opened my etsy shop a couple of years ago I started to fill it up with lagomorphia! What else?! and I found great satisfaction in making little sculptures of textile baby hares. A baby hare is actually called a leveret but for marketing purposes 'baby hare' sounds oh-so much cuter! Each youngster also has a name and a story. I love writing the stories and try to keep them as slightly realistic as possible and always positive and hopefully they will bring a smile to your lips.
There were quite a few talented artists on etsy making rabbit and hare textile ornaments and it proved to be quite a challenge to come up with my own design and pattern so that I didn't breach their copyright nor look like I lacked imagination! Two ladies whose work I really admire are the very successful Dawn Ramerman who makes adorable 'Love Creatures' and I have my very own one! and the very talented Shannah from DasKaninchen who makes beautiful fibonacci inspired rabbits with felt. Both ladies sell their work in their etsy shops.
But I had come across a German website of Fostering Hares and this photo from there was my sole inspiration - as you may see the likeness with little Betsy above?
The photograph is copyright Janine and Tom Brahner, Germany.

The HPT has an online shop where artists may sell their hare inspired art works. It has prints, bags, brooches, textile art and the most beautiful hare cards I have ever seen! This image of a Brown Hare has been given free of charge by the photographer to raise funds for the Trust.
I ordered a pack of 8 and was delighted when they arrived. Not all of these will be sent out that's for sure - I'm keeping a few for myself!

As soon as I got them I looked up Sean Hunter - the chap who took the photos and was completely in awe of his wildlife photography! I particularly love the very first photo on this post of the little baby being bottle fed.
What makes it even more special is that the lady is a volunteer for the HPT and this youngster was born this year! I love the heart necklace in the background, it is such a touching photo!
The following photos are all by Sean and can can be purchased from him.

My gorgeous cards can fold out to one large image. This European Brown Hare is in a field of wheat in Oxfordshire, England. A set of 4 cards costs £3.60 including postage and can be bought online from the HPT shop. They are blank inside and will suit any occasion prefectly.

I asked Sean what inspired him to photograph hares and he said that hares are one of his favourite animals.
He thinks hares are fascinating and beautiful and every sighting, whether near or far, lifts the mood and if he gets a photo then that is an added bonus.

Sean says that they have varying characters, like humans, with some being much more brave than others but that it is always a challenge to get a close encounter.
This hare is enjoying the warmth of the sun in a field of recently harvested barley in Oxfordshire.

A brown hare shaking rain off the fur in a soaking wet field of spring beans after heavy rain in Oxfordshire.
Sean is a professional wildlife photographer and has worked for the National Trust in the Lake District as a conservation volunteer. He also worked for several years in natural history photo libraries and as a picture researcher for Dorling Kindersley. I grew up with DK books and loved their realistic images! Then he worked freelance for DK and now has his own business.

This hare is on a farm track at the edge of a field spending time grooming. You can clearly see the white underbelly and long limbs. From this angle Sean would have had to be lying prone and in the early morning in the UK all the ground is wet with dew!

This super photo is of a hare running along a farm track. Hares tend to 'lope' along at a constant easy gait and from a distance can resemble dogs trotting along - with a straight back. They are truly magical beings when on the move at this steady pace and I have watched them entranced for ages in the fading light.
If you are an artist producing works with hares and would be interested in having your art for sale on the HPT site then leave your contact details in the comments below or if you are an etsy seller then send me a 'convo'. My etsy shop is on the right. I look forward to hearing from you.

and last but not least let's see that baby again!
Do bibs come small enough??
Thank you very much Sean for letting me feature your superb photos, I greatly appreciate it and thanks to Rodney for letting me volunteer as the Business Development Manager. I hope to be able to spread the good word about hares!


  1. Precious pictures and very informative blog. Will this be an efa charity sometime soon?

  2. I'm a bit emoitional today, so just Lindaxxx

  3. I agree Annette, I've watched so much cruelty, tv reports etc on how wildlife is abused, but however traumatic one has to know the facts so we will all know the truth, Great work keep it up Lindaxx

  4. thank you Linda.

    in reply to my comment on Linda's blog about the graphic and upsetting images seen at some of the links. I'm a bit of a sensitive soul and it's hard to look at these pictures - but this does go on - however the more people who know and take action - the less it will be tolerated, until one day it is finally stamped out and hares will be fully protected.

    Elizabeth I'm not sure I'd have to consult with Michele first. Thanks for asking.

  5. Such wonderful creatures - who couldn't delight in watching them frolick on a spring morning. Unfortunately some people I guess - inspired post, thanks! Jude.

  6. Hi Annette,
    What a fantastic post... I have a real passion for Hares....Truly beautiful creatures... They really are under threat from foxes which are on the increase, man and changing habitat. They need people like you who can help them. Keep up the good work.
    Glad I found your blog and will visit again very soon.

  7. How lucky they are to have you! May not pay in Pounds but you'll rack up some big Karmic Hare Bucks. Such great images and those babies, so sweet, oh my goodness, I'm melting looking at them. Have you seen "Hare About the House"? it's a download only.

  8. such a heartfelt post annette & i love sean's photo cards. how such cruelty occurs leaves me angry & bewildered that humans can have such little regard. i appreciate your shop & the stories you tell. keep them coming.....

  9. A lovely post Annette. I didn't realise hare coursing was still legal in Northern Ireland - that's terrible. We see lots of hares around our cottage, especially in the spring time & (believe it or not) I sometimes mistake them for small deer at first as they lollop through the fields! They do make Max & Molly very excited (their ears stick up almost as much as hares!), but those guys stay tightly on-lead whenever we're out in the fields here.

  10. thanks for your comment Jude, they are delightful.

    Thanks for visiting Julie, glad you enjoy the wonder of hares as well.

    Diana, thanks, I have that very book! My uncle has an old second hand bookshop and he gave it to me a few years ago - a cherished Christmas present! I have seen a few on ebay as well, around $10.

    Pat thank you. The people who inflict pain are definitely in the minority. Lets hope that the majority will take a stand and act to help.

    Thanks Jane - I agree with you, hares do lollop! Glad Max and Molly appreciate them from afar. Hopefully the Irish situation will change for the better soon. There is very little room for barbarism in our society today.


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