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"It is positively medieval, barbaric": New figures show injuries to hares

New figures show over 100 hares injured during the coursing season last year.

Image: photocall/James Horan

Updated July 30th

CALLS HAVE BEEN made by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) for hare netting licences to be refused for the coming season.

The group are currently seeking a meeting with Arts and Culture Minister Heather Humphreys, whose department have responsibility for granting a licence for the season to clubs around the country.

This comes in the wake of new information about the number of hares killed or injured over the coursing season last year.

The figures were revealed by a Freedom of Information request made by ICABS on the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the State body involved in natural conservation.

During the 2013 coursing season, the NPWS oversaw 23 meetings. This was a significant reduction on previous years. Throughout the season, over 100 hares “required assistance” after being struck during races, leading to over 20 of them dying of natural causes or having to be put down.

The coursing season runs from September to February. Estimates are that there will be around 80 meetings this year.

Source: ICABS/YouTube

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, spokesperson for the ICABS Aideen Yourell said: “These are wild animals. It is positively medieval, barbaric. The idea of it in a modern society. Every hare is traumatised.”

On whether the coursing clubs had regard for the safety of the hares, Yourell went on:

How can they have regard when they are using them as live lures. they just treat them as things to be used. They come under pressure to make sure that hares aren’t killed, but what can they do, they can’t avoid it. It is a 60 pound greyhound chasing after a six pound hare.

At one meeting in Liscannor, County Clare on the 28 and 29 of September last year, an inspector from the NPWS “wished to check the paddock on the morning of the releases but was unable to due to lack of co-operation and intimidation”. At the same event, 14 hares were hit by dogs, with one being injured and three being mauled.

On the issue of lack of cooperation with staff, Treasa Seoighe, a spokesperson for NPWS said:

“The Department is in communication with the Irish Coursing Club on a number of matters arising from the contents of some of the NPWS monitoring reports relating to the operation of the meetings during the 2013/14 season and compliance with the conditions attached to the licences including issues concerning lack of co-operation with NPWS staff.”

The Irish hare is a protected species under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000. Hare coursing is illegal in Scotland, Wales and England and became illegal in Northern Ireland in 2011.

The Irish Coursing Club were contacted but is yet to respond.

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