Until recently, scientists thought that Arctic hares traveled up to 22 miles in their lifetimes. But in 2018, a young female hare was tagged near Alert, Nunavut, and named BBYY. The name comes from the colors of her tags: blue, blue, yellow, yellow. That and the tracking device around her neck -plus the white fur- make her look like she’s ready for a night out on the town.
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The dozens of hares tagged in this study showed that Arctic hares travel much further than other lagomorphs, but BBYY still turned out to be an outlier. She traveled more than 240 miles in one 49-day period! Small herbivores just don’t do that. Wildlife biologist Sandra Lai led the study tracking the hares.
Lai had previously done research on Arctic foxes, but had come to Alert with colleagues to track, for the first time ever, the movements of individual Arctic hares. Nearly four years later, Lai still grins recalling her first meeting with BBYY. “She is very special to me,” Lai says.
While BBYY’s travels may be a record for her species, the research hints at how animals are adapting to changing environmental conditions. Read about the research project that put one hare in the spotlight at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Charline Couchoux)