Hares in the long grass: increased aircraft related mortality of the Irish hare ( Lepus timidus hibernicus ) over a 30-year period at Ireland’s largest civil airport

Samantha Ball*, Fidelma Butler, Anthony Caravaggi, Neil E. Coughlan, Gerry Keogh, Michael J. A. O’Callaghan, Ricky Whelan, Thomas C. Kelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Collisions between wildlife and aircraft are a serious and growing threat to aviation safety. Understanding the frequency of these collisions, the identity of species involved, and the potential damage that can be inflicted on to aircraft aid mitigation efforts by airfield managers. A record of all animal carcasses recovered from Dublin International Airport, Ireland’s largest civil aviation airport, has been maintained since 1990 where strikes with the endemic Irish hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus), a protected subspecies of mountain hare, are of particular concern despite substantial management efforts from the airfield authority. The first strike event with a hare was recorded in 1997, and strike events have substantially increased since then, with a sharp increase recorded in 2011. Over a 30-year period, a total of 320 strike events with the Irish hare have been recorded at the airfield. To date, no strike event with a hare has resulted in damage to an aircraft. However, carcasses can present as a major attraction to avian scavenger species in addition to posing as a risk of causing foreign object damage in the event of an undetected carcass. Hare strikes are discussed in the context of the rate of civil aircraft movements, possible direct and indirect damage to aircraft, and airfield wildlife hazard management. Here, we demonstrate that not only are strike events increasing by 14% on an annual basis, but that the kinetic energy of such an event has the potential to cause significant damage to an aircraft.
Original languageEnglish
Article number80
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume67
Issue number5
Early online date10 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Original Article
  • Road Ecology
  • Airfield management
  • Air safety
  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Foreign Object Damage (FOD)
  • Scavenger guild
  • Wildlife strike
  • Wildlife hazard management

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