Navigation Links
Irish hares fall foul of modern farming trap

Research from Queen's University Belfast has revealed the 20th century decline in the Irish hare population is almost certainly associated with changes in farming practices.

The Stormont Assembly voted to ban hare coursing in Northern Ireland last Tuesday (22nd June), but a recent study, funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and published in the international journal Biological Conservation, suggests hares may join the ranks of other farmland species, such as the Corncrake, unless more is done to protect its habitat.

The research team, led by Dr Neil Reid, Quercus Centre Manager in Queen's School of Biological Sciences, has shown that hares require an intricate patchwork quilt of good quality grassland for feeding, and tall uneven vegetation, such as rushes, for hiding and sleeping.

Dr Reid explained: "Hares may mistake the tall grass of silage fields as a good spot for lying-up and giving birth. Silage is harvested during the peak period when leverets are born in late spring and early summer and the machinery used may trap and kill young hares, driving local population declines year after year. Hares have fallen foul of an ecological trap."

The researchers tagged a population of hares in South Armagh with radio-transmitters, allowing them to track their every move. They followed the animals day and night for an entire year to see how they changed their habitat preferences. The researchers found that during late spring and early summer they increased their use of long grass destined to be cut for silage.

Dr Reid said: "On a day-to-day basis, hares are remarkably boring creatures to follow. They don't move far and during the daytime they do very little. This is rather worrying, however, if they settle in unsuitable habitat that may present life threatening risks at a certain time of year. We may have forty shades of green in Ireland but we have created what amounts to a desert of grass. Variety is the spice of life. Wildlife can't survive in a pristinely manicured landscape of only one habitat."

Dr Reid added: "Fields are frequently mowed from the edge to the centre for convenience but it surely can't be that difficult to do it the other way around? Adopting 'hare-friendly' mowing regimes, similar to those adopted to minimise the impact of harvesting on ground nesting birds, may help mitigate the effects. Unfortunately, leverets tend not to run so it may not work, but it's worth testing."

The new Northern Ireland Countryside Management Schemes (NICMS), implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), now includes a specific measure to target the Irish hare called the 'delayed cutting and grazing' option. Farmers who sign up will receive hectarage payments for postponing the cutting of silage until after the 1st July and for maintaining rushy field margins.


Contact: Donna McCullough
Queen's University Belfast

Related biology news :

1. Scots and Irish at greater risk of drink-related death, study shows
2. Genome of Irish potato famine pathogen decoded
3. Gene-targeting pioneer Mario Capecchi shares 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine
4. Eat chocolate, drink wine, add fun to life: SLU geriatrician shares secrets of staying young
5. University of Arizona scientist shares in discovery of microbe filaments power
6. Plant microbe shares features with drug-resistant pathogen
7. New study finds catch shares improve consistency, not health, of fisheries
8. More than 1: Long-reigning microbe controlling ocean nitrogen shares the throne
9. Study shows compulsive eating shares addictive biochemical mechanism with cocaine, heroin abuse
10. Winner Medical Group inc. Prices Offering of 1,380,000 Shares of Common Stock
11. Southwest Bancorp, Inc. Announces Pricing of $50 Million Underwritten Public Offering of Common Shares
Post Your Comments:
(Date:9/28/2015)... , Sept. 28, 2015 CLEAR, ... that its expedited traveler service is coming ... transforms travel, bringing a frictionless experience, serious ... "CLEAR offers our travelers an ... service," said Jim Smith , Executive ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... 28, 2015 The global ... USD 12.03 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR ... as Backside Illumination (BSI) technique to improve picture quality ... period.      (Logo: , ... to reduce loss and, thus, reduce the noise interference ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Sept. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... developer of human interface solutions, today announced that Lenovo ... area touch fingerprint sensor, FS4202, for its latest smartphone, ... enables secure, password-free access to unlock the device and ... consumers. The feature-rich Natural ID FS4202 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... DUBLIN , Oct. 13 2015 Research ... the "US & Europe Markets for Bone Morphogenetic ... report to their offering. --> ... factors that induce the formation of bone after a ... during embryonic development in the formation of the skeleton. ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... 13, 2015 " Microbiology Culture Market ... - 2023 " , the global microbiology culture ... to reach US$7.59 bn by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of ... " Microbiology Culture Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, ... , the global microbiology culture market was valued at US$4.51 ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... today announced that it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research ... National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), will fund the development of a ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... YORK , October 13, 2015 ... acceleration and development company, has entered into a strategic ... York and Paris, France ... --> --> This collaborative arrangement ... highly respected scientific advisory team as well as long ...
Breaking Biology Technology: