The Park has most of the mammal species that are found inland in Ireland. Some are easier to find than others. One of the mammals you are most likely to see on a visit to the Park is the Wild Goat grazing in small herds in the Glendalough valley. Deer are easily found in the upper open areas, where you'll also come across the fast moving Mountain Hare. Rabbits are found at lower, drier altitudes where they can find suitable soil to burrow in. Red Squirrels can be seen scrambling in the stands of pine trees and the Grey Squirrel is now also establishing a presence. At night time the bats take over from the birds. The more difficult to spot mammals include the Pine Marten up in the trees and the Otter in the rivers and lakes but keep your eyes peeled and you may be fortunate!
Native vs. Introduced
The mammals can be put into two groups according to whether they are native or introduced. Not all the mammals living in the Park made it here by themselves. Some were introduced by man and are breeding successfully within the Park, sometimes to the detriment of the native inhabitants. For example, the introduced Grey Squirrel is threatening to push out the native Red Squirrel. The introduced Japanese Sika Deer interbreeds with the native Red Deer. There are now no pure bred Red Deer in the Wicklow Mountains.
There are also mammals that would have once lived in the mountains before the Park was established but are now extinct. Some species have died out as a result of natural changes in the environment such as the Giant Irish Deer or Irish Elk (Megaloceros giganteus). Man, however, exterminated the Wolf (Canis lupus), leaving no natural predator to control the population of herbivores. The mammals that survive in the Park are those that have successful strategies for coexisting with Man. They are generally nervous of the presence of humans and hide. Some animals such as the Badger only come out at night.
In the event of a threat to the wildlife in the Park, active conservation measures are taken to protect the overall integrity of the ecology of the uplands. Due to the lack of a natural predator the goats and deer of the Park have to be culled to prevent overgrazing within the Park's important woodlands. Hunting by the general public is not permitted.
Any management of the mammal populations within the Park is subject to the provisions of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000. Some species that are rare in Europe also receive special protection under European Law. One such animal is the Otter. The Park and most of the Wicklow Mountains have been designated a Special Area of Conservation for the Otter.
©Wicklow Mountains National Park, 2005-2006.
What is a Mammal?
Mammals have two unique features. The first is their ability to nurse their young with milk produced by the mother. The other is that their young are all born with a covering of hair. Ocean going whales, tiny flying bats, playful otters and hyperactive shrews to name but a few all share these features making them all mammals.
A third of all the Park's mammals are bats. Learn more about them here..»