The Irish Hare, a supposedly protected species, is not only under threat from licensed hare coursers during seven months of the year but also from shooters during six months.
A licence granted by the Department of Arts and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service allows hare coursers to use nets to cruelly capture hares from the wild for their bloodsport during the months of August, September, October, November, December, January and February.
But hares are also targeted by those who get their kicks from blasting wildlife to death. Hares may be legally shot during six months of the year – from the end of September and throughout October, November, December, January and February.
Those taking out shotguns to gun down these defenceless creatures do not even need to apply for a licence to do so.
According to a “Government Notice” on the National Parks and Wildlife Service website, “The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht would like to inform all game hunters of the following important information with regard to hunting licences. Under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2012, all holders of a valid Firearm Certificate issued for a shotgun on or after 1 August 2009 are deemed by law to be the holders of a Hunting Licence under the Wildlife Acts for the purposes of hunting game bird and hare species.”
In a table headed “Hunting seasons for wild birds and hares”, the notice states that hares may be shot between 26th September and 28th February.
The document also presents killing dates for other species including Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Red Grouse, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, Golden Plover, Snipe, Jack Snipe, Red-Legged Partridge, Cock Pheasant, Woodcock, Woodpigeon, Ruddy Duck, Red Deer, Sika Deer, Fallow Deer and Muntjac Deer.
Hares are also under threat from hunters using packs of hounds as well as from those involved in illegal hunting and coursing using greyhounds and lurchers.