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Irish Wildlife Trust calls on public to help change animal welfare bill

TDs Maureen O’Sullivan and Clare Daly plan to propose the removal of exemptions for fox hunting and hare coursing.

Image: Andrew Kelly/Karol Waskiewicz

THE IRISH WILDLIFE Trust (IWT) has called on the public to help change the new Animal Health and Welfare Bill that will be debated in the Dáil on Wednesday.

Independent TDs Maureen O’Sullivan and Clare Daly are set to challenge the bill and propose that exemptions for fox hunting and hare coursing be removed.

IWT today urged the public to contact their local TDs, asking them to support this proposal ahead of the debate.

Campaigns Officer for the trust, Pádraic Fogarty said hare coursing and fox hunting are “relics of a past that most Irish people, whether rural or urban, are happy to see the back of”.

“They are not sports and amount to no more than the degradation of our native wildlife for the amusement of a few,” he said.

The trust said that alternatives to fox hunting used in the UK since the hunting ban could be implemented here, including drag hunting which involves dragging an object over the ground to lay a scene for hounds to follow.

It said drag hunting – using a mechanical lure or dummy hare – could also be used for hare coursing, which involves the pursuit of hares with hounds which chase the hare by sight and not scent. Dogs are tested on their ability to run, overtake and turn a hare.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Dick Power of the Hunting Association of Ireland said he was “not surprised” that the two independent TDs were proposing the removal of the exemptions for the two bloodsports.

“They’ve both been opponents of hunting and those types of sports for a long time,” he said. “But the minister is very farsighted and very reasonable with his whole approach to this”.

Power said that the debate around hunting is similar to that of eating meat. “For meat eaters, you’d be asking yourself every time you sit down to a meal do you have the right to eat this, because an animal has been killed”.

“Most animals aren’t killed at all in hunting, in fact, if God was to drop me on this earth to be either a hunted fox or a cow I’d certainly choose to be a fox,” he added.

The debate in the Dáil will take place at about 12 noon on Wednesday.

Read: Animal rights groups condemn ‘brutal attack’ on fox in Laois>

Read: Dog hacked to death with axe on Valentine’s Day>

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