Hares were introduced into Australia early in the period of European settlement. This study examined historical issues of newspapers and other historical sources to ascertain the number of importations, the number of hares landed alive, their destinations, relevant habitat characteristics at the sites of the releases, and whether the propagules became established and spread. Forty shipments were identified, and one or more live hares were landed from 27 of those shipments, totalling ∼86 live hares, and resulted in the establishment of 10 populations of hares. The climate and the grasses at the known release sites were suitable for Lepus europaeus and predators were rigorously suppressed, which, acting together with the wealth, power, influence, and determination of the proponents of the importations, made establishment of hares in Australia almost certain. However, 11 of the hares landed alive were almost certainly L. nigricollis, and the fates of seven of those hares are not known. There are populations of hares in Australia at sites suited to L. nigricollis but not L. europaeus on the basis of climate and availability of C4 grass types, and the taxonomic status of those hares should be examined.
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Vol. 63 • No. 1