Wildlife Conservation

Ceisteanna (231)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

231. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the use of Larsen traps as part of the curlew conservation programme will be discontinued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21588/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

There are a number of native Irish breeding birds, particularly ground nesting birds, that are of priority conservation concern and have been “red-listed”. This includes Curlew, which has declined by 97% in Ireland since the 1980s and which needs significant effort to stabilise the population and save it from extinction in Ireland.

One of the primary issues for Curlew (and other ground nesting birds) is been excessive predation rates, including by corvids (especially Grey Crows and Magpies).

Magpies and Grey Crows are legally and humanely controlled by professional operatives on contract to the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, in a targeted and very localised way in the vicinity of Curlew breeding sites. This is to help this rare and threatened species rear its young, without eggs or chicks being taken. Larsen traps are used as an effective part of this effort to save the Curlew and are used by conservation bodies across Ireland and Britain in efforts to support a range of threatened species from predation.

Hare Coursing Regulation

Ceisteanna (232)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

232. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if, in view of expert reports that hare numbers have significantly reduced here, she will consider a suspension of all hare hunting and use of wild hares in coursing in order that the population can regrow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21643/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

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.