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Dramatic and on-going decline in Irish hare numbers
04 January 2013

The Irish Hare Initiative has called on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to retract an "extremely misleading" claim that the "Irish Hare population is significantly increasing".

Coveney made the statement in the Dail after pointing to hare surveys which estimated that Irish hares in the Republic numbered approximately 233,000 in early 2006 and 535,000 in early 2007.

"Whilst the figures you quote are correct, your assertion that the 'hare population is significantly increasing' is without foundation and extremely misleading," Mike Rendle of the Irish Hare Initiative stated in a letter to the Minister. "Indeed the most recent and robust time-series data suggest that our Irish hare population continues to suffer a definite downward trend."

He continued: "The increase quoted in the period 2006-2007 is not exceptional for Irish hares given the cyclical nature of their population trend. Indeed such an increase may be predicted every three years. However, the decrease in each cycle is greater than the increase thus resulting in a net reduction in hare numbers. This pattern is supported by other, quite separate, time-series hare counts. So, notwithstanding a regular and predictable cyclic component to current Irish hare dynamics, the population is experiencing an on-going downward trend. As the [accompanying] graph clearly shows, counts of Irish hares have fallen by 50 per cent since 2004."

The Belfast-based Irish Hare Initiative has called for an end to the persecution of hares.

"Given the dramatic and on-going decline in hare numbers, any activity such as coursing that is likely to place unnecessary pressure on this already vulnerable species should be reviewed and outlawed," they told Minister Coveney. "The Northern Ireland Assembly has already outlawed hare coursing and we would like to see the most robust protection given to this declining species throughout our island."

Visit the Irish Hare Initiative website at

Graph showing temporal trend as indicated by annual time-series counts (Count data from Quercus/NIEA Irish hare surveys)


Contact Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney now and demand that a coursing exemption is removed from the Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012.

Minister Simon Coveney
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
CC: (An Taoiseach)
Tel: 01-607 2884 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.

Contact all your local TDs now. Demand that they urgently help save foxes from cruelty and back a ban on hunting and digging out.

Find out the names of your TDs and their email addresses.

If you prefer to post a letter to your TDs, address your correspondence to:
Dail Eireann
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2.

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