Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan’s Private Member’s Bill to abolish hare coursing has been chosen to be taken in the Dail this Thursday, June 23. Deputy O’Sullivan will hold a press conference regarding the bill on Tuesday, June 21, at the Mont Clare Hotel, Merrion Street Lwr, at 12 Midday.
Among those supporting the bill at the press conference will be Senator Frances Black, actors Pauline McLynn (Mrs. Doyle, Fr. Ted), Rachel Pilkington (Fair City, The Clinic) and Linda Martin
A vote on the Bill is expected to take place on the following Thursday, June 30th.
This is the culmination of decades of campaigning by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports for an end to the barbaric “sport” of hare coursing. The last Private Member’s Bill for a ban on hare coursing was taken by the late Tony Gregory TD, and sadly it failed to pass. The Minister for Agriculture at the time, Joe Walsh, told the coursing clubs to muzzle the greyhounds in an attempt to take the kill out of coursing and sanitise the cruelty, but this cosmetic exercise did not have the desired effect, and the kills and injuries continued on, with the muzzled dogs striking unfortunate hares, pinning them down and mauling them, resulting in their injury and death, as reports obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports reveal down the years. And this year was no different, with the usual pattern of hare injuries and kills (see below).
Hare coursing is facilitated by a hare netting licence to the coursers from Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts & Heritage, who has responsibility for the National Parks & Wildlife Service. The process of snatching up to 5,000 hares in nets, shoving them in boxes and keeping them captive in compounds is hugely terrorising and stressful for such timid wild animals, used as live lures to run before greyhounds, even if they survive to be released afterwards. Pregnant and nursing mothers can be taken up in the nets, leaving young leverets to fend for themselves in the wild, while hares have given birth in coursing compounds, as verified by National Park rangers’ reports. Every aspect of hare coursing is inherently cruel, from their capture in nets, their captivity for weeks on end in a compound, culminating in having to run for their lives before greyhounds. A hare weighs in the region of 6 to 8lbs, while two greyhounds weighing from 60 to 80lbs and travelling at speeds of up to 40mph can inflict very serious injuries on the fragile hare.
See video footage filmed at Limerick in 2013.
There is absolutely no excuse for using hares as live bait before greyhounds, as drag coursing does exactly the same job. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports filmed a drag meeting at Listry in Killarney, in 2012 and we saw the dogs enthusiastically and repeatedly following the drag, despite the coursers’ claims that the greyhounds won’t repeatedly follow the drag because it is not a live animal. They follow the mechanical hare on the track.
See our video footage
We are calling on the party leaders and whips to allow a free vote on this issue. There is much talk of making the Dail more democratic, fair etc, so on this issue of whether our country should continue to tolerate such appalling animal abuse, our TDs should be allowed to vote as their consciences and moral compass informs them. Hare coursing is long since outlawed in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, because of the cruelty involved. Here now is an opportunity for our legislators to show compassion for a timid wild animal, the Irish hare, which, ironically, is designated a highly protected species under our Wildlife Act, and bring an end to this barbarism that has no place in a modern, civilised country.
HARE INJURY AND KILL FIGURES – 2015/16 SEASON OF COURSING
(Source: National Parks & Wildlife Service)
It should be noted that only six coursing meetings out of approx. 75 were monitored by the National Parks, a steady decline in monitoring in recent years, due to staff shortages. The hare coursers are obliged to make returns of injuries and kills, but we are highly sceptical of these figures and they should be viewed with a health warning.
National Parks ranger reported that at Tubbercurry in January of this year, 14 hares were hit, 12 injured, six badly, with 1 dying of its injuries and 3 more put down. At Old Kilcullen last December 2015, 7 hares were struck, with 3 dying of injuries, according to the coursers; at Co. Kerry coursing, 3 hares were struck with 2 being put down; at Dundalk 3 hares were struck with 2 dying of injuries; at Macroom 6 hares “required assistance” according to the coursers, a euphemism for being struck and mauled, with 3 being put down; at Mooncoin, 5 hares “required assistance” and 1 was put down; at Ardpatrick & Kilfinane, where an ICABS monitor was assaulted and had a camera taken, 3 hares “required assistance” and 2 were put down; at Ennis Clarecastle, 5 hares were struck, 3 injured, I died due to injury and 2 were put down because of injuries; at New Ross 7 hares were hit, 4 injured and 1 put down; at Rathcormac, 2 hares “required assistance” with 1 being put down; at Balbriggan, 2 hares “required assistance” with 1 dying of its injuries; at Cavan 7 hares “required assistance”, with 1 dying from injuries; at Clonmel & Kilsheelan 3 hares “required assistance” with 1 dying from its injuries; at Cork coursing club 4 hares “required assistance”, with 1 dying of its injuries; at East Donegal, that 7 hares were struck by greyhounds, but the coursers stated that no hares were hit over the two days. The ranger noted in a memo that on the second day of coursing “the club committee agreed to cancel two of the races ……. as they thought that the weather had taken its toll on the hares”. He added that “on the morning of the first day’s coursing there were three dead hares in the hare paddocks; at Bandon & Mitchelstown 5 hares “required assistance”, with 5 requiring treatment by vet, and 1 dying of injuries; at Liscannor 1 hare “required assistance” and died; At Templetuohy 6 hares “required assistance” and 1 died of “natural causes”; at Trim 1 hare “required assistance” and 1 hare died of injuries; at Wexford coursing meeting, Ranger stated that 6 hares hit by dogs, 1 put down because of injuries.
For more, see our Coursing Cruelty Catalogue 2016 at