Belfast Telegraph

BBC's Countryfile show to focus on Ireland's unique hares

By Linda Stewart

Ireland's unique hares get the TV treatment this Sunday when they feature on the BBC's Countryfile show.

Presenter Matt Baker was in Northern Ireland last week to find out the secrets of the Irish hare - one of the few native species that is only found in Ireland.

The team went to RSPB reserve Portmore Lough, a wildlife haven close to Lough Neagh, and Belfast International Airport where Irish hares roam near the runways.

Hare expert Dr Neil Reid of Quercus at Queen's University Belfast said interest was sparked by a project asking the public to submit hare hotspots that could be surveyed using camera traps.

The project pinpointed 12 strongholds including sites near Saintfield, Armagh, Boa Island in Fermanagh, Moneymore, close to Larne and in the Sperrins.

"Hares are ecologically very similar to ground-nesting birds - both nest on top of the ground and are vulnerable to predators and farm intensiifcation," Dr Reid said.

"So anything that benefits ground-nesting birds benefits hares."

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