Wednesday, 19th September 2018
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with Justin Ivory Did you know that the Irish hare is the country’s only native lagomorph species? We have three species of lagomorphs in Ireland – the native Irish Hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus), the 2 non native species, European Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) and the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Like other farmland species, the Irish Hare numbers have declined of habitat loss and degradation, and intensive farming methods. Other factors include hunting both legal and illegal poaching, and trapping of hares for coursing.

The Irish Hare is legally protected by the Wildlife Act and its various amendments. It is also listed on Appendix III of the Berne Convention, Annex V of the EU Habitats Directive and as an internationally important species in the Irish Red Data Book. Despite these protections in the anomaly that is Ireland they are still allowed to be hunted and trapped for coursing.

It is over a decade since the Irish Hare population was last surveyed in 2007 but now there is a new national survey underway led by Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). To facilitate this national survey the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have joined with QUB to launch a monitoring portal for hares in Ireland and they would like members of the public to submit their hare sightings via the online record form at the link below: hare survey#7/53.455/ 8.016 So that species identification can be verified, if possible, please include a photograph. Identifying Irish Hares can be tricky as they can be confused with the common Rabbit or the rarer European Brown Hare. Guidance notes on species identification can be found on the NBDC website at the following link: biodiversity/surveys/national hare survey/ Also if you find a dead hare QUB are looking for you to collect the specimen in a plastic bag, labelled with the date and location and contact Queen’s University (nmcgowan@qub)


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