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Trevor Sargent calls for end to coursing licences
23 December 2004

Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, has called on the Minister for the Environment to stop licensing hare coursing. The call comes as hares continue to die from stress-related illnesses and maulings during coursing activities.

Mr Sargent raised the issue in a parliamentary question at the beginning of December. Responding, Minister Dick Roche dismissed the call and insisted that coursers would be allowed to continue capturing wild hares for use in the blood sport. The full question and answer follows.

Question 167 - Answered on 8th December, 2004

Trevor Sargent: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will consider the threat of myopathy for the hare species, which is a stress induced condition; and if he will end licences for hare coursing to minimise the threat.

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 8th December, 2004. Ref No: 29372/04.


Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr Dick Roche): Under section 34 of the Wildlife Act 1976, my Department is responsible for the issue of an annual licence to the Irish Coursing Club and its affiliated clubs to capture live hares for the purpose of coursing.

There is no evidence that hare coursing in Ireland adversely impacts on the conservation of hare populations and there are no proposals to change existing arrangements for the licensed netting of wild hares for live hare coursing.

In the case of the coursing meeting last season in which the mortality was exceptionally high, the possibility of stress (myopathy) as a constructive factor was considered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department. While it was not possible to establish why, in this particular case, the hares should have been particularly vulnerable, my Department regarded this level of mortality as a serious matter. Accordingly, the club in question will, this year, be holding a scaled down event, closely monitored by my Department to ensure that its management regime does not increase the risk of myopathy. (View other Parliamentary Q&A)

Related articles from ICABS newsletter
(Animal Voice, Summer 2004)

Forty hares die at coursing meeting
Vet states stress of coursing is the cause

Following the deaths of up to forty hares after a coursing meeting at New Ross, County Wexford, a veterinary surgeon cited stress as the cause.

Vet Peter A Murphy told the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in a letter last January, that "under the influence of stress, the hare's immune system is compromised and these organisms suddenly multiply rapidly to cause a severe clinical disease and ultimately death."

"Hares being normally solitary animals," Mr Murphy wrote, "are significantly stressed when corralled and coursed, and this combination of circumstances has resulted in the deaths in this case."

Post mortems had been carried out by Mr Murphy and the Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Kilkenny, after the hare deaths.

The ranger who monitored the coursing meeting stated in his report that "it was obvious that the hares were not in good condition".

There were eleven hares hit by dogs and six were dead by next morning. The following day, according to the ranger, it was the same, with hares "not willing" to run and four being hit by dogs.

ICABS asks the question, why was this meeting not stopped on day one when it was noted that the hares were obviously not in good condition?

This again highlights the utter callousness and cruelty of the coursers whose only priority is that their "sick" sport carries on, despite the suffering of the hares.

Hare injuries and deaths continue in coursing

Hares continue to be mauled, injured and killed at coursing meetings, according to National Parks & Wildlife Service reports.

The reports, filed by conservation rangers, were issued to ICABS Vice-president, Deputy Tony Gregory, in Dail Eireann.

Relating to the 32 coursing meetings observed by rangers (out of a national total of around 100), the reports show that 174 hares were "struck" with 41 hares injured while up to 46 hares died of so-called "natural causes".

Another clear indication that there is absolutely no way, despite claims by the Irish Coursing Club, that injuries and kills can be eliminated from coursing. It is as clear now as it ever was that the muzzling of coursing greyhounds has failed to save hares.

As regards the 124 hares out of 174 which survived being "struck" by muzzled dogs, they were documented by the rangers as having been returned to the wild after coursing. ICABS can only speculate on the welfare of these creatures.

All hares used as live lures, whether struck or not, are deeply stressed and traumatised by the experience, and their welfare seriously compromised.

Please keep the pressure on your local Dail/Senate representatives. Tell them that the time has come to finally rid Ireland of this cruel and unnecessary blood sport.

Ranger critical of pregnant hare coursing

In a memo from one National Parks and Wildlife Service official to another, "serious reservations" were expressed about "a vet allowing pregnant hares and hares which have just given birth to be coursed".

The conservation ranger who attended the Westmeath United coursing meeting in Raharney, Co. Westmeath, was told by a coursing club official that "some hares return to the coursing field after a coursing meeting as some give birth while penned up in the enclosure prior to the coursing meeting."

The ranger noted a small hare in the enclosure and was told by the coursing club official that it had been born there.

In the memo, Dr Linda Patton stated that "since these animals are protected and it seems that the populations may be declining, we should surely be aiming to protect the pregnant and suckling adults and their young with a view to conserving the species at a favourable conservation status."

Incredibly, according to the licence to net hares, there is no condition regarding the taking of pregnant hares. This points up again the gross interference by coursing clubs in the life cycle of a timid wild species and the state's willingness to continue licensing this abuse regardless.

This is another significant reason, among many, for an end to live hare coursing.

More Information: Coursing Cruelty

Latest News - Coursing:
Coursing season details revealed (11 November 2004)
"Man About Dog" film has got it wrong (08 October 2004)
No funds to coursers in "last ten years" (07 October 2004)
Coursing claims are absurd: Conservationists (22 September 2004)
"Ban Hare Coursing" Poster - Download and display today! (07 September 2004)
ICABS launches campaign postcards (12 August 2004)
Animal Voice Newsletter - Summer 2004 Edition (30 July 2004)
Stress and Capture Myopathy in Hares (07 July 2004)
Taxpayers want coursing outlawed, not grant-aided (25 May 2004)
Irish Greyhound Board questioned about coursing (01 April 2004)
Renewed Call for Humane Alternative to Hare Coursing (04 February 2004)
Minister refuses to implement humane alternative to coursing (20 January 2004)

Ban Coursing Website:
For more information on hare coursing cruelty in Ireland, please visit our Ban Hare Coursing website at

Visit our Petitions page to print out and sign a Ban Hare Coursing petition.

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