Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

What’s that noise?

Early in my career, I took many trips into the mountains of southeastern Utah. It’s one of the state’s most remote and beautiful areas, and there’s wildlife everywhere.

On one of these journeys, I stayed overnight. I was assigned a Ford Bronco, so it was easy to just drop the tailgate and stretch out in my sleeping bag.

Most snowshoe hares live in mountainous areas above 7,000 feet. They typically eat a variety of green, succulent plants in the spring and summer. In the fall, they prefer to eat bark and twigs. They don't usually nibble on vehicles. Photo by Betsy L. Howell

I hadn’t been asleep for too long before I was awakened by a metallic grinding sound. It seemed pretty strange, considering my remote mountain location. The sound stopped after a minute, and I went back to sleep.

Then, a few minutes later, I awoke to a clinking noise. I was stumped. I sat up in my sleeping bag and looked around. When I couldn’t pinpoint the source (which eventually stopped), I managed to get back to sleep.

Sometime later, I was again awakened. But this time, I felt the Bronco move — and it freaked me out!

I sat up and looked around but couldn’t see anyone. Who was messing with me, and why? Whoever it was, he was crouched beside the vehicle, because I couldn’t see him through the glass.

I leaned over the tailgate to see if I could spot the prankster and found him immediately: a snowshoe hare was gnawing at the undercarriage of the Bronco!

Apparently, I had parked right over the spot where the hare bedded down, and he was not too happy. He seemed determined to get rid of the chunk of metal over his head, even if he had to nibble all night. I saved him some time by re-parking the Bronco.

Now, when I head into the mountains, I always take a closer look before I park my car for the night. You never know who’s trying to get some sleep!