3              Townsend's Rocky Mountain Hare

                            LEPUS TOWNSENDII.--BACH.

                        TOWNSEND'S ROCKY MOUNTAIN HARE.
                           [White-tailed Jack Rabbit]

                          PLATE III.--MALE AND FEMALE.

     L. magnitudine, L. Americano par; auribus, cauda, cruribus tarsisque
longissimis; supra diluti cinereus, infra albus.

     Size of the Northern hare, (L. Americanus:) ears, tail, legs, and tarsus,
very long; colour above, light gray; beneath, white.


LEPUS TOWNSENDII, Bach., Journal Acad. Nat. Sciences, Philadelphia, vol. viii.,
  part 1, p. 90, pl. 2, (1839,) read Aug. 7, 1838.


     Body, long and slender; head, much arched; eyes large; ears, long; tail
very long, (compared with others of the genus,) in proportion to the size of the
animal; legs long and slender; tarsus very long.  The whole conformation of this
animal is indicative of great speed.


     Crown of the head, cheeks, neck, whole upper parts, and the front of the
ears and legs, externally, gray; with a faint cream-coloured tinge.  Hair, on
back and sides, whitish, or silver gray, at the roots, followed by
brownish-white, which is succeeded by black, subdued gradually to a faint
yellowish-white, and finally tipped with black, interspersed with long silky
hairs, some of which are black from their roots.  On the chin throat, under
surface, interior of legs, and the tail, (with the exception of a narrow dark
line running longitudinally on the top,) the hair is pure white from the roots.
Irides light hazel; around the eyes white; back part of the tips of the ears
black; external two-thirds of the hinder part of the ears white, running down to
the back part of the neck, and then blending with the colour of the upper
surface; anterior third of the outer portion of the ear, the same gray colour as
the back, fringed on the edge with long hairs, which are reddish fawn colour at
the roots and white at the tips; interior of the ear very thinly covered with
beautiful fine white hairs, being more thickly clothed near the edge, where it
is grizzly-black and yellowish; edge, fringed with pure white, becoming
yellowish toward the tip, and at the tip black.  Moustaches for the most part
white, black at the roots, a few hairs are pure white, others wholly black.
     The specimen which was described and first published in the Transactions of
the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, was a female, procured by J. K.
TOWNSEND, Esq., on the Walla-Walla, one of the sources of the Columbia river.
     Another specimen now in our possession, the dimensions of which are given
below, is in summer pelage, having been obtained on the 9th June.  There is
scarcely a shade of difference in its general colour, although the points of
many of the hairs are yellowish-white, instead of being tipped with black, as in
the specimen obtained by Mr. TOWNSEND.  There is also a white spot on the
forehead.  The young is a miniature of the adult.  We observe no other
differences than that the colour is a little lighter, and the tail pure white.


     Adult Male, (killed on the Upper Missouri river.)            Inches.

     From nose to root of tail .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  21 1/2
     Tail (vertebrae) .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   3 1/8
     Tail, to end of hair.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   4 3/4
     Height of ear, posteriorly.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   5 1/2
     Length of head in a direct line .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   4 5/8
     Length of head following the curvature.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   5 1/4
     Length from heel to end of claw .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   5 5/8
                             Weight, 6 1/2 pounds.

     Adult Female,
       (shot by EDWARD HARRIS, Esq., on the 27th July, 1843.)     Inches.

     From nose to root of tail .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  21
     Tail (vertebrae) .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   3
     Tail, to end of hair.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   4 1/2
     Height of ear, posteriorly.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   5 1/4
     Between the eyes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   2
     From nose to hind feet (stretched out).  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  36
     Height from foot to shoulder .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  13 1/2
     Height to rump   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  14

     Young.                                                       Inches.

     From nose to root of tail .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  12
     Tail (vertebrae) .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   1 1/4
     Tail, to end of hair.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   2 1/8
     Height of ear, posteriorly.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   2 5/8
     Height from claw to shoulder .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   7 1/8
     Length of head in a direct line .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   2 3/4
     Length of head following the curve .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   3 3/4
     Length from heel to end of claw .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   3 5/8


     We subjoin the following note, received from the original discoverer of
this Hare, which contains some valuable information in regard to its
habits:--"This species is common in the Rocky Mountains.  I made particular
inquiries both of the Indians and British traders, as to the changes it
undergoes at different seasons, and they all agreed that it never was lighter
coloured.  We first saw it on the plains of the Blackfoot river, east of the
mountains, and observed it in all similar situations during our route to the
Columbia.  When first seen, which was in July, it was lean and unsavory, having,
like our common species, the larva of an insect imbedded in its neck; but when
we arrived at Walla-Walla, in September, we found the Indians and the persons
attached to the fort using it as a common article of food.  Immediately after we
arrived we were regaled with a dish of hares, and I thought I had never eaten
anything more delicious.  They are found in great numbers on the plains covered
with wild wormwood, (Artemesia.)  They are so exceedingly fleet that no ordinary
dog can catch them.  I have frequently surprised them in their forms and shot
them as they leaped away, but I found it necessary to be very expeditious and to
pull trigger at a particular instant, or the game was off among the wormwood and
I never saw it again.  The Indians kill them with arrows by approaching them
stealthily as they lie concealed under the bushes, and in winter take them with
nets.  To do this, some one or two hundred Indians, men women and children,
collect, and enclose a large space with a slight net about five feet wide, made
of hemp; the net is kept in a vertical position by pointed sticks attached to it
and driven into the ground.  These sticks are placed about five or six feet
apart, and at each one an Indian is stationed with a short club in his hand.
After these arrangements are completed a large number of Indians enter the
circle and beat the bushes in every direction.  The frightened hares dart off
towards the net, and in attempting to pass are knocked on the head and secured.
Mr. PAMBRUN, the superintendent of Fort Walla-Walla, from whom I obtained this
account, says that he has often participated in this sport with the Indians and
has known several hundred to be thus taken in a day.  When captured alive they
do not scream like the common gray rabbit, (L. Sylvaticus.)"  "This Hare
inhabits the plains exclusively, and seems particularly fond of the vicinity of
the aromatic wormwood.  Immediately you leave these bushes in journeying towards
the sea you lose sight of the Hare."
     To the above account we added some farther information on our last visit to
the far West.  On the 8th June 1843 whilst our men were engaged in cutting wood
and bringing it on board the steamer Omega, it being necessary in that wild
region to stop and cut wood for fuel for the boat every day, one of the crew
started a young Hare and after a short chase the poor thing squatted and was
killed by a blow with a stick.  It proved to be the young of Lepus Townsendii,
was large enough to have left its dam, weighed rather more than one pound, and
was a beautiful specimen.  Its irides were pure amber colour and the eyes large,
its hair was slightly curled.  This Hare was captured more than twelve hundred
miles east of the Rocky Mountains.  On the next day in the afternoon one of the
negro fire-tenders being out with a rifle, shot two others, both old
individuals; one of them was however cut in two by the ball and left on the
spot.  The hair, or fur, of this individual was slightly curled, as in the young
one, especially along the back and sides, but shortly after the skins had been
prepared this character disappeared.  These specimens are now in our collection.
     Pursuing our journey up the tortuous and rapid stream, we had not the good
fortune to see any more of these beautiful animals until after our arrival at
FORT UNION near the mouth of the Yellow Stone river, where we established
ourselves for some time by the kind permission of the gentlemen connected with
the fur trade.
     On the 29th of July on our return from a buffalo-hunt, when we were some
forty or fifty miles from the fort suddenly a fine hare leaped from the grass
before us and stopped within twenty paces.  Our friend, EDWARD HARRIS, Esq., was
with us but his gun was loaded with ball and ours with large buck-shot intended
for killing antelopes; we fired at it but missed:  away it went, and ran around
a hill, Mr. HARRIS followed, and its course being seen by Mr. BELL, who observed
"Pussy" stealing carefully along with her ears low down trying to escape the
quick eyes of her pursuers, the former gentleman came up to and shot her.
     This species, like all others of the same family, is timid and fearful in
the extreme.  Its speed, we think, far surpasses that of the European hare, (L.
     If the form is indicative of character, this animal, from its slender body
long hind legs and great length of tarsus must be the fleetest of the hares of
the West.
     These hares generally place or construct their forms under a thick willow
bush, or if at a distance from the water-courses on the banks of which those
trees grow, or when they are in the open prairie, they place them under the edge
of some rock, or seek the shelter of a stone or large tuft of grass.
     The Rocky Mountain Hare produces from four to six young in the year.  As
far as we have been able to assert in it has but one litter.  The young suck and
follow the dam for about six weeks after which she turns them off and leaves
them to provide for themselves.  The flesh of this species resembles in flavour
that of the European hare, but is white, instead of dark-coloured, as is the
case with the latter.

                           GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.

     Although the entire geographical range of this species has not been well
defined, yet it must be very considerable.  It is found in great numbers, long
ere the western traveller has passed the prairies, on the shores of the lower
Missouri, and has a range of fifteen hundred miles east of the great Rocky
Mountain Chain.
     According to Mr. TOWNSEND it is common on the Rocky Mountains and exists in
considerable numbers on the western side of that great chain; and if travellers
have not confounded it with other species it extends southwardly as far as Upper
     The period may arrive when civilization shall have drawn wealth and a large
population into these regions.  Then will in all probability this poor hare be
hunted by greyhounds followed by gentlemen on horseback and whilst the level
plains of our vast prairies will afford both dogs and horsemen every opportunity
of rapid pursuit, the great swiftness of this species will try their powers and
test their speed to the utmost.

                                GENERAL REMARKS.

     We have, since this species was first described had some misgivings in
regard to its being entitled to the name by which we have designated it.
     We had previously (Journ. Acad. Nat. Scien., vol. vii., part. 2, p. 349,
and vol. viii., part 1, p. 80) described a species from the West, in its white
winter colour, under the name of L. campestris.  We had no other knowledge of
its summer dress than that given us by LEWIS and CLARK.  Being however informed
by Mr. TOWNSEND, who possessed opportunities of seeing it in winter, that the
present species never becomes white, we regarded it as distinct and bestowed on
it the above name.  We have been since assured by the residents of Missouri,
that like the Northern hare, Lepus Townsendii assumes a white garb in winter,
and it is therefore probable that the name will yet require to be changed to L.
campestris.  As, however, another hare exists on the prairies of the West, the
specific characters of which have not yet been determined, we have concluded to
leave it as it stands, supposing it possible that the white winter colour may
belong to another species.