Irish Hare

There are still Irish hare found in the Belfast Hills despite a substantial decline in their population in Northern Ireland in the last 10 to 20 years. An animal completely unique to the island of Ireland, the Irish hare is thought to have been an inhabitant since before the last Ice Age.  Coat colours can range from from russet brown to light brown or blond. Indeed, incredibly elusive white hares have been spotted and become immortalised in folklore.

The Irish hare can be distinguished by its black tipped ears and white tail. However there can be variations of darker coloured tails.  These incredible animals have long powerful back legs that help them reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and jump heights of around two metres! Hares shelter in a hollow depression above ground known as a form and raise their leverets there. They can live for up to nine years. 

We would like to encourage people to keep their dogs on a lead when walking in the hills. This contributes to conservation of this unique species. A curious dog, while perhaps not malicious in its intent, could disturb hares.  A startled hare may get chased by a dog resulting in a lethal combination of stress and fatigue.  It is also believed that a hare can die from one bite from a dog.