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Hares have decreased in recent years: NPWS

The National Parks and Wildlife Service have confirmed on their website that the number of hares in Ireland has "decreased in recent years". Please urgently join us in our call to Environment Minister, John Gormley, to ban all forms or hare hunting and coursing to help secure a healthy future for this vulnerable species. Please see below for the full article on the hare from the NPWS site

Irish Hare (NPWS Website)

Irish name: Giorria

Scientific name: Lepus timidus hibernicus

The Irish Mountain Hare has inhabited this island for many thousands of years. The bones of an animal found in Co. Waterford are over 28,000 years old. The Irish mountain hare is recognized as a unique subspecies. It does not turn white in winter like other European populations, and in Ireland it inhabits lowland habitats.

The mountain hare has long ears, slightly shorter than the length of its head, and long hind feet. Its coat is usually reddish brown in summer but changes to grey-brown in the winter months. The top of the tail is usually pale to white.

The Irish hare is found in every county but numbers have decreased in recent years.

It lives in open areas on uplands, farmland and grassland. It is usually nocturnal but is sometimes active during daylight in spring and summer. Hares rest above ground in shallow depressions called 'forms', and in some areas will dig shallow burrows. They are usually solitary animals, but sometimes gather in large numbers to feed. Irish hares eat many different plants, including heather, herbs, gorse, plantain, dandelions and grasses. Like rabbits, hares ingest some of their droppings, passing food through their stomachs twice (known as 'refection') so they obtain the most nutrients from their food.

Breeding usually occurs between January and September. There are often squabbles at this time and males kick and box and chase each other, hence the phrase "as mad as a March hare".

Breeding females usually have two or three litters each year, and there are one to four leverets in each litter. Leverets are born fully furred and have their eyes open, and are weaned at three weeks. Only about one-fifth of young hares survive their first year.

Irish Hare Lepus timidus hibernicus (Photo: Mike Brown)


Please urgently contact Environment Minister, John Gormley, and appeal to him to prohibit all forms of hare persecution, including hare hunting and hare coursing.

(If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Minister John Gormley
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 888 2403. Fax: 01 878 8640.

Dear Minister Gormley,

The conservation status of the Irish Hare has been described as "poor" in the recently published "Report on Status of Habitats and Species in Ireland". Furthermore, the NPWS division of your department has confirmed on its website that "numbers have decreased in recent years". This is cause for enormous concern to myself and the majority of Irish people who value the hare as an important part of our precious heritage.

Minister, as you are no doubt aware, most people in this country want the hare to be allowed to live free from persecution by coursing and hare hunting clubs. We oppose the cruelty inherent in these outdated activities but also the threat they pose to regional hare populations and the species as a whole.

In coursing, hares continue to die at all stages - during the capture, during the time they are kept in captivity, during the coursing meetings and also subsequent to their release back to the wild. Such deaths have been documented by the NPWS. These timid and fragile creatures die as a result of physical injuries or from the stress caused by human handling and being chased by greyhounds.

I implore you to act on the wishes of the electorate, and on the stark findings of the habitats and species report, and immediately ban coursing and hare hunting.

Thank you, Minister.

Yours sincerely,


Video: Coursing cruelty

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