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Hare protection extended in North as hunt season extended in Republic
24 March 2006

A ban on the killing of hares in Northern Ireland is to be extended to at least March 2007, ICABS is delighted to report. The North's Department of the Environment said they felt it was "appropriate to provide further protection until there is more certainty about the sustainability of the population". In stark contrast, the hare hunting season in the Republic was recently extended. (Please see Pressure mounts for hares as beagling licence issued)

Commenting on the decision to protect hares from hunting and coursing activities, a spokesperson for the Belfast-based Environment Department commented: "The results of the 2005 Irish Hare Survey provided some encouraging indicators about the Irish Hare population, but showed a reduction in overall numbers from 2004. The department considers it appropriate to provide further protection until there is more certainty about the stabilisation and sustainability of the population. The department will be undertaking a further survey during 2006 in support of the work in recent years in order to determine the trends in the population."

"In December 2005, the department sought objections to the proposal to introduce further protection for the Irish Hare and the above decision was made following consideration of the objections received," the spokesperson added.

ICABS was one of the groups who voiced support for a continuation of the ban on hare hunting activities in the North. .

The temporary ban was initially introduced in January 2004 by the then Environment Minister, Angela Smith. The latest extension - introduced under the Game Preservation Act (NI) 1928 - will prohibit the removal of hares from the wild, the killing of hares and the trade in hares. It will remain in effect between 17 April 2006 and 31 March 2007.

ICABS congratulates the North's Environment Minister, Lord Jeff Rooker, for ensuring that the hare species remains protected from hunters and coursers.

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