Visitations by Snowshoe Hares (Lepus americanus) to and Possible Geophagy of Materials from an Iron-Rich Excavation in North-Central British Columbia
Keywords:excavation, fecal pellet, geophagy, iron, Snowshoe Hare, Lepus americanus, soil, wildlife camera, John Prince Research Forest, British Columbia
AbstractFecal pellet samples and photo data were collected and analyzed to investigate the suspected occurrence of geophagy of soils by Snowshoe Hares (Lepus americanus) at a small iron-rich mineral excavation in north-central British Columbia. Pellet samples from Snowshoe Hares collected near the excavation site in both February 2004 and 2005 showed higher levels of iron (II) sulphate in pellets than in samples from control areas (P < 0.05). Using remote wildlife camera technology, we determined that Snowshoe Hares accounted for 72% of visits by mammals to the site. Ninety percent of these visits occurred at night; this timing corresponds with the use of mineral licks by several other species of mammals in North America. Use occurred in winter (49%) and spring (47%), but was rare in summer and autumn, and may have coincided with periods of nutritional stress in Snowshoe Hares.
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