ALMOST 250 years since the last wolf was hunted to extinction in Ireland, a debate is taking place between political parties on the possibility of reintroducing the animals.
Green Party TD Eamon Ryan has called for reintroduction of wolves in order to 'rewild' parts of the Irish countryside.
Supporters of the idea have cited the massively beneficial 1995 Yellowstone Park initiative where wolves were successfully reintroduced to the area. Their presence forced herds of wild elk to continuously move around the park, preventing overgrazing and keeping the area's ecosystem healthy.
However Fine Gael politician and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan has rejected the idea, saying that her department has no plans to reintroduce the former native animal.
"The reintroduction of a large predator which has been absent for 250 years might undermine existing conservation programmes and would do considerable damage to farming."
The suggestion has sparked debate between Irish people on whether they would like to see the apex predator reintroduced, and a poll published today by Irish newspaper The Journal indicated that 51% of voters would like to see it happen.
Critics have said that there is simply no wild place large enough for the animals to thrive in modern day Ireland, but supporters have suggested areas such as the Wicklow mountains could be suitable.
Ireland's very last wolf is believed to have been killed near Mount Leinster in in County Carlow for killing sheep in 1786.