Mountain hares of Scotland are victims of human beings' greed who are aware of the dangers of climate change but are not taking timely action. This results in misery for the wildlife, and the latest to enter the list is the mountain hares of Scotland. These animals experience a natural seasonal change of color from brown to white. This usually acts as a camouflage against the backdrop of snow-covered surroundings.

However, global warming has decreased the duration of the snow cover. The mountains of Scotland have less snowy winters. This seasonal "mismatch" makes the hares vulnerable to predators.

A recent study reveals that they are unable to keep pace with the climate crisis.

The Independent UK says a team of scientists first examined horseshoe hares in America. These also change color during molting. This is a process where animals shed their old covering of feathers, hair, or skin to make new growth. Marketa Zimova of the University of Michigan led the study. It found that hares face higher predation rates when there is a camouflage mismatch. The net result is a drop in their population because of global warming and the snow cover's corresponding loss.

Effects of climate change on mountain hares in the UK

To study the effect of climate change on hares in Scotland, the team referred to data from the 1950s and 60s.

They then compared this to the present day timings. The availability of the past data helped the research team to understand the phenomenon. The team returned to the Scottish Highlands to continue the study. It involved surveys and recording of the pattern and timing of moult. The data was spread out over a number of spring and autumn seasons.

The Independent UK adds that the team tried to make the study as comprehensive as possible. It calculated the change in temperature vis-à-vis the snow cover for more than half a century.

The opinion of experts on climate change and mountain hares

The Independent UK refers to what Scott Newey said. He is an animal ecologist at the James Hutton Institute and co-author of the study.

In his words, this condition indicates that certain types of wild animals cannot adjust to the fast-changing nature of the climate. They have to pay the price. L Scott Mills is another co-author from the University of Montana. He shares the concerns of Scott Newey. Dr. Zimova, the study leader, is worried about the failure of a species to adapt to these climate changes. It could have serious consequences of not just a decline in numbers but also extinction.

Climate change is a risk for mountain hares in Scotland

According to Sky News, during winter, mountain hares in Scotland can blend easily into their surroundings. This is the time when they shed their dark fur for white. However, animals are losing that advantage because of climate change.

Global warming has led to an increase in the number of days without snow. These animals are unable to take advantage of the snowy camouflage and fall prey to predators. An analysis by the Met Office warns that by 2080, only some specific areas of Britain could still witness freezing temperatures.

This situation is not new to wildlife that struggles to adjust to the vagaries of nature due to human beings' actions. In February 2018, news in the media about Arctic polar bears starved because of climate change. In September this year, it was about the mass death of elephants in Botswana. Wildlife officials blamed it on climate change. The subject of climate change has featured in many international forums, and countries have promised to go in for Renewable Energy as alternatives to fossil fuels. Work in these areas deserves topmost priority. The international community must realize the seriousness of the issue.