News Release

Hareport hazard - researchers identify most dangerous times for hares on Dublin Airport’s runway

EMBARGO - 10:00AM GMT (Irish time) Wednesday August 10 2022

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University College Cork

A leveret or young hare by the runway at Dublin Airport.

image: A leveret or young hare by the runway at Dublin Airport. Researchers from University College Cork have identified the times of day when hares are at most risk of being hit by aircraft on runways. Photograph by Samantha Ball, University College Cork, Ireland view more 

Credit: Samantha Ball, University College Cork, Ireland

  • Researchers use motion-activated cameras to document when hares are most likely to be struck by aircraft at Dublin Airport

  • Hares more likely to be struck at times of lower aircraft activity, sunrise, and midnight

  • Findings could help mitigate worldwide ‘runway roadkill’ incidences that costs airports millions a year internationally

EMBARGO - 10:00AM GMT (Irish time) Wednesday August 10 2022

Researchers have identified the times of the day when hares are more likely to be struck by aircraft at Dublin airport - and believe their findings may help reduce costly ‘runway roadkill’ incidences around the world.

A study led by Samantha Ball, an Irish Research Council Scholar at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) in University College Cork used motion-activated camera traps to collect activity data on the hare population inhabiting the airfield at Dublin Airport, and used the data to identify when hare strikes, or wildlife-aircraft collisions, were more likely to occur.

These new findings were published today (WEDNESDAY AUGUST 10) in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation.

The new study follows a paper published last year in which a team lead by Ms Ball found the number of wildlife-aircraft collisions with mammals are increasing by up to 68% annually in some countries and has caused damage that has cost in excess of $103 million in the United States alone over a 30 year period.

“Firstly, we identified two distinct time periods of increased strike risk, generally around sunrise and in the hours approaching midnight,” Ms Ball explained. 

“Of course, with varying daylength throughout the year in Ireland, there is some seasonal variation here. We also found that hare strike times at the airfield were closely associated with the times of day when hares were most active at the airfield but when aircraft movements were relatively low. 

“This tells us that we can focus strike prevention efforts- such as scaring tactics and runway patrols- directly onto the hare population themselves as opposed to facing the near-impossible task of altering aircraft activity, in order to reduce hare strike events.

“This work has allowed us to identify periods throughout the day, and year, when strike risk with hares may be higher, indicating when strike prevention efforts can be increased to deter hares from the active runway. The research can also be applied to other airfields, as although we focus here on the Irish hare at Dublin Airport, this method can be used to identify periods of increased strike risk with ground-dwelling species of concern worldwide, such as deer and large carnivore species,” she said.



The paper Hareport hazard: Identifying hare activity patterns and increased mammal-aircraft strike risk at an International Airport by Samantha Ball, Anthony Caravaggi, and Fidelma Butler will be published by Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation at 10:00AM GMT Irish time, Wednesday August 10 2022.

The full paper will be available here:

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