Research led by the University of East Anglia has found the first confirmed cases of rabbit virus in UK hares.
Brown hares that died from rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) have been found in Essex and Dorset. They're the first cases in the UK although brown hares have died in Europe from the disease.
Nationally, brown hares have experienced a decline of more than 80 per cent over the past century due to changes in agricultural practice. The intensification of agriculture has limited their supply of food and habitat.
But concerns about new diseases were raised after landowners, farmers and other members of the public started reporting sightings of obviously sick and dead hares in September 2018.