Mapping Irish Mammals

NPWS is working with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Centre for Data and Recording in Belfast to map all mammals throughout the island of Ireland. This new initiative, launched in 2011, will collate records from the public as well as data from scientific surveys.  The project will run to 2015.

One of the primary aims of the initiative is to encourage recording of the commoner Irish mammals, so that a comprehensive picture of their distribution can be achieved for the first time. Historical surveys and datasets will also be collated with the aim of producing two maps for each species – a map of pre 2010 distribution and one of 2010-2015 distribution. This will then provide a baseline against which future changes to distribution can be tracked.

Please submit your records for all species, no matter how common. A simple online form for submitting your records is available here.

Photo of rabbit Photo of hedgehog Photo of fox
Rabbit Hedgehog Fox
(Photos: Mike Brown)    

Mammal Research

Recent Events

NPWS was pleased to sponsor the first ever IUCN European Otter Workshop to be held in Ireland. The meeting took place in Kinsale from 24th - 26th April 2013 and was attended by otter experts from all over Europe. The workshop was followed by a very successful fieldtrip to Sherkin Island and Roaringwater Bay.

The International Mammal Congress took place in Belfast from 11th - 16th August 2013. Over 600 delegates from all over the world took part in the meeting. The main sponsors of the meeting were NPWS and our counterparts in the North - the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Ireland hosted the European Mustelid Colloquium for the first time in November 2012 thanks to sponsorship from NPWS. The 30th European Mustelid Colloquium was held on the 1st and 2nd of November 2012 at the National Museum of Archaeology, Kildare St, Dublin2. The colloquium was organised by Dr. Catherine O’Reilly at Waterford Institute of Technology. For further details see:

Pine marten

NPWS were proud sponsors of A.I.M.S. 2012

All Ireland Mammal Symposium logoThe 2nd All Ireland Mammal Symposium took place on 26th - 27th October 2012 in the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. Further details here:


The Otter (Lutra lutra) is protected under the Irish Wildlife Acts (1976 & 2000) and is also listed on Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive. This Habitats Directive listing obliges Ireland to undertake surveillance of the species [as per Article 11] and to report regularly on the species conservation status [as per Article 17].

Despite being widespread throughout Ireland, the otter was deemed to be in poor conservation status in the most recent Article 17 report (see: S1355B    [99KB]).

The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) published a detailed Otter Threat Response Plan  [856KB] in 2009. This plan included an action to initiate a new National Otter Survey in 2010. The plan also recognised the need for the otter population to improve if it is to reach favourable conservation status. A target of 88% occupancy in SACs designated for the otter and no less than 70% outside those SACs has been set. The Plan also reviews the major threats facing the otter in Ireland and identifies the measures required to address these threats. It goes on to identify who is responsible for implementing each measure and provides a time frame for delivery.

The fieldwork and data analyses for 2010/2011 National Otter Survey has been completed and the final report will be published shortly in our Irish Wildlife Manuals series. This latest otter survey, which was managed by Quercus, will help meet NPWS obligations for the species under Article 11 of the EU Habitats Directive. The survey examined the concerns raised in the Article 17 report for this species, and will help to provide the necessary population and habitat data to inform the next Article 17 report, due in 2013. It will also provide an update on the population targets set in the Threat Response Plan and allows for national and regional comparisons with the results of previous otter surveys in Ireland.

A total of 75 NPWS Conservation Rangers were involved in the field surveys.

Previous national otter surveys have been conducted in Ireland, most recently in 2004/05 (See: Irish Wildlife Manual No. 23:   [3,072KB]). An ongoing programme of rapid assessment surveys, is also underway with a rolling programme of 8 catchments being surveyed in detail every two years. 
Concern about the potential impacts of accidental killing on the otter populations are also being investigated; a review of the impact of fyke netting on otters has been carried out (Irish Wildlife Manual No. 27:  [1,472KB]) and a survey of wildlife roadkill is underway.

Irish Hare

The Irish Hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus) is listed on Annex V of the EU Habitats & Species Directive. A full report on the conservation status of the hare was completed in 2007. It can be read here: S1334B  [68 KB].

The first National Hare Survey of Ireland took place in February to March 2006 and again in February to March 2007. The fieldwork, which was largely conducted by NPWS staff, involved night-time spotlight surveys at pre-determined points along 700, 1 km transects throughout the country. Results were analysed in relation to landclass and geographical area. The final report can be downloaded here Irish Wildlife Manual No. 30:  [1,832KB].

Photo of Irish hare

Irish Hare (Photo: Eddie Dunne)

Red Squirrel

As part of our conservation effort to secure the future of red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in Ireland, NPWS funded a pilot translocation programme of red squirrels to Belleek Wood in Ballina, Co. Mayo in 2009/2010.  The project was run to IUCN guidelines and in close co-operation with the local community in Belleek. The project was managed for NPWS by Dr Colin Lawton and his team in NUI Galway, who had already undertaken an earlier translocation to Connemara. The final report, which includes very encouraging follow up monitoring results from both translocation sites, can be downloaded here: Irish Wildlife Manual No: 51:  [5,510 KB]. The report provides guidance for future translocations in Ireland.

A translocation of red squirrels to Killiney Hill in south Dublin took place in August 2012. It is hoped that this re-stocking programme, which is being managed and funded by DLR CoCo with the support of NPWS, will save the remnant population of red squirrels on Killiney Hill from extinction.

Red Squirrel (Photo: NPWS)


For information about current research on bats go to our Bats page.

Marine Mammals

For information about current research on marine mammals go to the Marine Research page.


Members of the Scientific Unit can be contacted by e-mailing: