With the turn of the tides and evolution of ecology, there have been many changes on the Emerald Isle. These are ten amazing but sadly extinct animals in Ireland.
Ireland is an ancient, mystic land known for its dynamic landscapes of wild, rugged beauty, its vibrant culture, and rich heritage. Its flora and fauna are also critical cornerstones of the Irish community.
Numerous factors – including climate change, loss of habitat, and hunting – have led to the loss of many species on the island of Ireland. These are ten amazing but sadly extinct animals in Ireland.
10. Pine marten – the one we could still save
Although pine martens are not yet extinct in Ireland, their dwindling numbers finds them on the brink of total extermination from the Emerald Isle – thus essential to include here.
Factors that have led to their steep decline include being hunted for fur, poisoning (both direct and indirect), and habitat loss.
Approximately only 2,700 pine martens still survive in pockets of the West, meaning they are Ireland’s rarest, native mammal and those most under threat of extinction.
9. Corn bunting – the bye-bye, birdie
The corn bunting is a small bird – similar in size to a skylark – that used to roam the Emerald Isle and breed on its fair shores. Today, however, the corn bunting is nowhere to be found.
Although it still can be spotted in the UK and Europe, the corn bunting is considered extinct in Ireland due to the decline of mixed crop farming.
8. Hornet moth – the mimic moth
This species may appear to be a hornet or large wasp, but it is, in fact, a moth who mimics those as mentioned above.
Flying by day, this vegetarian moth feeds on tree tissues that reside under the bark. However, it was last spotted in Ireland in 1946, making it another one of the amazing but sadly extinct animals in Ireland.
7. Solitary bee – the mysterious missing bee
This small bee is a bit of a mystery when it comes to discussing extinct species on the Emerald Isle.
It was first spotted in Lucan in 1902 – although no records pre- or post- this date have made it into the books. Some suggest it is still present in Ireland, entirely off the radar, so keep your eyes peeled for this little bee. However, the chances are that it is now extinct.
6. Gray whale – the mighty mammal
The gray Whale is one of the larger amazing but sadly extinct animals in Ireland on our list.
Hunted into extinction in Ireland by the 17th-century, other impacts on their global livelihood today include oil and gas construction, collisions with ships and entanglement in debris, waste and fishing gear that is in the ocean.
5. Wildcat – not your average housecat
Indeed wildcats bear a similar appearance to your average housecat, but these mighty felines are bigger, stronger, and more cunning than one could imagine.
The European wildcat once frequented towns including Galway and Waterford although the loss of natural habitat led them to die out.
4. Grey wolf – a fierce predator
The grey wolf is another one of the amazing but sadly extinct animals in Ireland. Although a common sight well into the 18th-century, the presence of a wild wolf on the Emerald Isle is unheard of today.
Hunting is the primary reason for the decline and eventual extinction of the grey wolf in Ireland. Although it must be noted that wolves can be seen in their once natural habitat in the wildlife sanctuary, Wild Ireland, in Donegal.
3. Great auk – a penguin-esque bird
Great auks were a familiar sight in Ireland into the 17th-century. Bearing great similarity to a penguin, the large, flightless bird was commonly spotted on the coastline.
Hunting, however, eventually led to its demise. The last great auk was killed in Ireland in 1834. A decade later, the entire species considered extinct on the island of Ireland.
2. Brown bears – the Irish grizzly
Brown bears are often associated with North America, but did you know they once walked the Emerald Isle? These are another one of the amazing but sadly extinct animals in Ireland.
It was the last ice age in Ireland that wiped out these impressive animals, and today Ireland is bear-free (excluding wildlife parks) due to this.
1. Irish elk – the elk with unforgettable antlers
With a tremendous antler-span, Irish elk would have been a force to be reckoned with when they roamed the land, some 6,000-8,000 years ago.
They, too, are now extinct but their remains have been uncovered in Irish bogs in recent times.
It was, however, mineral deficiency – due to their sizeable antlers – that eventually led to their demise, as opposed to human or industrial impact.