My Department is not aware of any expert reports which indicate a national decline in the population of hares.
EU Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) requires Ireland to make a detailed report every six years on the conservation status of all listed species, including the hare. Ireland’s most recent report in 2013 included a comprehensive assessment of the range, population status, habitat and threats for the Irish hare. The report can be downloaded at https://www.npws.ie/article-17-reports-0/article-17-reports-2013.
The 2013 report stated that the Hare is found throughout the country from coastal habitats to upland heath and bog . The Hare is widespread and common in Ireland with a broad habitat niche. None of the identified threats are considered likely to impact on its conservation status in the foreseeable future and the Overall Conservation Status was assessed as Favourable.
In addition to the reporting requirements of the EU Habitats Directive, data on the distribution of the hare is being collected continuously by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the recent Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015 provided a summary of the species’ range, demonstrating that it remains widespread across the country.
My Department recently commissioned a new assessment of the status of hare’s population in Ireland. The survey work to inform this population assessment has already begun with the main survey work occurring over the 2018/19 winter period. The final report is due in mid-2019.
In relation to hare coursing meetings, the recent 2017/18 hare coursing season finished at the end of February last. All reports in relation to the season will be reviewed and all issues arising, including possible breaches of conditions, will be investigated and considered in the context of licenses for the 2018/19 coursing season.