In the last ten years, as marginal agriculture has retreated from the hills and EU policy has favoured wildernesses, a number of native predators, bears, wolves and eagles, have been successully reintroduced to various parts of Europe.
The Irish Times yesterday published an article on the loss of the wolf from Ireland, as a result of a Cromwellian campaign to hunt them down and eliminate them. The last wolf recorded in Ireland was killed by a wolf-hound pack in 1786.
Curse of Cromwell extended to Ireland's wolf population - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 11, 2009Ringforts were built from AD 500 to AD 1000 to protect cattle and sheep from them. William Russell, lord deputy of Ireland, was recorded wolf hunting with his wife in Kilmainham, Dublin, on May 26th, 1596. In 1558, 961 wolf skins from Ireland were exported to the port of Bristol.
Dr Hickey wrote that it was clear Ireland had a very significant wolf population during the 1500s and early 1600s, possibly well in excess of 1,000 animals.
He said the last authenticated date for the killing of a wolf in Ireland was 1786 on Mount Leinster, Co Carlow: a lone wolf which killed sheep was “subsequently hunted down and killed by the wolfhounds of John Watson, Ballydarton, Co Carlow”.
There is a campaign to reintroduce wolves to Scotland. There are apparently many ecological benefits.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Wild wolves 'good for ecosystems'
Faced with another era of mass emigration and population decline, should the human species in Ireland make room for the wolf ?