Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
622. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for the reintroduction of the Irish hare to the North Bull Island special area of conservation, from which Dublin City Council reports they are all but extinct; the additional measures that will be taken to protect the species on the island; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15270/19]
I understand that date of the last sighting of hares from Bull Island reported to the National Biodiversity Data Centre was in 2012.
Although the reason for the decline and disappearance of hares from Bull Island is unclear, it is likely that disturbance by people and dogs would have been a source of ongoing stress to hares on the Island and may be the best explanation. Isolated populations, such as at the Bull Island, are especially vulnerable to extinctions, given the absence of connectivity with neighbouring populations.
International best practice on reintroductions is provided in the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and other Conservation Translocations. 
The National Parks and Wildlife Service of this Department rely on those guidelines when considering licence applications for reintroductions and translocations. Those Guidelines outline the requirements that need to be met to ensure that reintroductions “yield a measurable conservation benefit at the levels of a population, species or ecosystem.” Moving animals to Bull Island at this time would not meet those criteria.
There are therefore no plans to reintroduce hares to the North Bull Island. My Department will however continue to liaise with Dublin City Council on the management of Bull Island and have not ruled out the potential for a translocation of hares to Bull Island sometime in the future should conditions become more favourable for a long-term, sustainable hare population.