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Hare "squealed with distress": more coursing cruelty uncovered
31 August 2007

A hare "squealed with distress" after being caught by a muzzled greyhound during a coursing meeting last season. Just one of the deplorable instances of animal cruelty uncovered by ICABS from the latest NPWS reports.

The documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, provide yet another horrifying insight into the fate of hares caught by coursing clubs. The abuse outlined is some of the worst ever encountered by ICABS.

Among the disturbing incidents witnessed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers during the 2006/07 season are:

  • Hares being killed after being viciously mauled by greyhounds
  • Hares suffering injuries so severe that they had to be put down
  • A hare "squealing in distress" after being caught by a muzzled dog
  • A hare suffering with "a badly broken hind leg"
  • A hare "carrying a hind leg"
  • A hare with "a damaged hind toe"

For more details, please scroll down for extracts from the ranger reports. Please note that only 28 of the 75 meetings were monitored by NPWS personnel and that in some cases, the meetings were only partially monitored.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is disgusted that a licence issued by former Environment Minister, Dick Roche, has facilitated this assault on one of Ireland's most precious species. We have made the Deputy Roche aware of the hares that suffered as a result of the licence he issued. We are now making an impassioned appeal to current Environment Minister, John Gormley, to firmly refuse anther licence to the Irish Coursing Club. We have brought to his attention the fact that mechanical lure coursing is a perfectly viable option available to the coursers. This humane form of coursing is practised successfully in Australia where live lure coursing is outlawed. We have also drawn Minister Gormley's attention to recent licence breaches by four coursing clubs but we are unaware if these have been investigated with a view to prosecutions.

As the Green Party's stated policy is that "when in government" they will "introduce legislation to end blood sports", we are hopeful that Minister Gormley will take the first historic step in achieving this by refusing the coursers a licence to snatch hares from the wild for use as live lures for their barbaric and outdated activity.


Please send a message of support to the six Green Party TDs and urge them to stand firm on their pre-election pledge to protect Irish animals from the terrible cruelty of blood sports.

Minister John Gormley
Minister for the Environment
Tel: 01-888 2403

Ciaran Cuffe, TD
Tel: 01-6183082

Trevor Sargent TD
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for Food and Horticulture
Tel: 01-6183465

Minister Eamon Ryan, TD
Minister of the Department of Communications; Energy and Natural Resources
Tel: 01 6183097

Mary White, TD
Tel: 059 9773184

Paul Gogarty TD
Tel: 01 6183022

Sample Letter
(Please compose your own personal letter if possible. If you do not have time to do this, please send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Dear Deputy,

I am writing to urge the Green Party to please honour its pre-election promise to ban blood sports in Ireland.

The Irish animals so cruelly abused and killed in our countryside are depending on your commitment to bring blood sports to an end.

As a first step, I appeal to you to please refuse licences to the Irish Coursing Club and the Ward Union deer hunt.

Your historic move will be widely welcomed across Ireland and the world.

Thank you and best wishes.


Hare Coursing Cruelty (2006/07 Season)
Extracts from official National Parks & Wildlife Service reports
obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act.

Tradaree, Co. Clare (13/14 January 2007)
Ranger stated that five hares were mauled on day 1, with one dying instantly. The following morning, it was discovered that four hares had died overnight and two were injured. One was put down and the other released after veterinary attention. During the second day's coursing, three hares were mauled, with one dying instantly and two more put down later after being found with serious injuries, while another hare was found dead after the coursing meeting, which brings the hare death toll at this meeting to 10.

Westmeath United (14/15 October 2006)
Ranger reported "three hares that were badly mauled were placed in a box by the field steward." When the coursing was over, she "watched as the steward carried the box towards the escape." She was "concerned that these hares were about to be let back to the enclosure without examination by a vet. Due to the severity of the mauling," she said, it was "likely that these hares would have had internal injuries," in her opinion. On day 2 of the meeting the conservation ranger noted that four hares were hit, two of which were caught by dogs through their muzzles. She stated that one hare, which was tossed and badly mauled, having been caught through the muzzles by the dogs, "squealed with distress and/or pain and was taken up by the steward and carried to the escape and released back into the enclosure without examination by a vet on the day."

Tubbercurry & District (28/29/30 October, 2006)
There were 7 hares hit and mauled on day 1, two of which were killed; on day 2, 5 hares were hit and mauled, while 9 hares were hit on day 3, with 1 hare having to be put down because of its injuries.

Roscommon (26/27 December 2006)
Ranger stated that 13 hares were struck, with 1 put down because of injuries. Ranger also stated that when he was supervising release of hares following coursing meeting in Roscommon, "one hare was unable to escape due to serious injuries. The hare had a badly broken hind leg and seemed to be in great distress." The ranger destroyed the hare humanely.

East Donegal (30/31 December 2006)
There were 5 hares struck by dogs, 3 of which died due to their injuries.

South Clare (26/27 December, 2006)
Six hares were hit over the two days of coursing, with 1 killed outright, and 3 dying afterwards from their injuries, according to NPWS report.

Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry (14/15 October, 2006)
There were 5 hares hit over the two days, with 2 being put down and 2 dying of "natural causes", according to the conservation ranger.

Castleisland (29/30 October, 2006)
There were 4 hares struck by greyhounds, 1 killed and 1 put down as a result of its injuries, while 1 died of "natural causes".

Lixnaw, Co. Kerry (4/5 November, 2006)
The conservation ranger did not attend the first day of coursing. He noted 3 hares struck by greyhounds on second day of coursing, with 2 having to be put down because of injuries.

Listowel, Co. Kerry (11/12 November, 2006)
The conservation ranger stated that 2 hares were struck and one died of "natural causes".

Ballyduff, Co. Kerry (18/19 November, 2006)
4 hares were hit over the two days, with one having to be put down due to injuries. The ranger commented on the "very bad weather and heavy rain".

Kilflynn, Co. Kerry (2/3 December, 2006)
There were 3 hares hit by greyhounds, with one dying of "natural causes". Ranger stated that due to the very heavy rain over the previous week, parts of the field were "heavy going".

Castletown-Geoghegan, Co. Westmeath (16 December, 2006)
Ranger stated that 4 hares were struck by greyhounds, with three being injured.

Dundalk & Dowdallshill (26/27 December, 2006)
NPWS conservation ranger attended event for one day only and reported 4 hares killed, and a further 3 injured hares were sent to a vet for assessment.

Trim, Co. Meath (4/5 November, 2006)
According to conservation ranger's report, 10 hares were hit by dogs over the two days of coursing, 5 injured, one of which died due to injuries. 4 hares were unaccounted for.

Killimer-Kilrush, Co. Clare (25/26 November, 2006)
Nine hares were hit by dogs over two days of coursing, with one hare being killed and one hare dying "after running up the field uncoursed", according to NPWS report.

Milltown-Malbay, Co. Clare (28/29 October, 2006)
Ten hares were hit over the two days of coursing.

Rathkeale (25/26 November, 2006)
2 hares killed, according to ranger's report.

Dungarvan (16/17 Nov. 2006)
The ranger noted two hares carrying injuries: "one hare was carrying a hind leg and one had a damaged hind toe."

Liscannor, Co. Clare (30 October, 1 November 2006).
Five hares were hit and 1 put down because of its injuries, and also another put down, "which appeared dull", according to Ranger.

Cappoquin (11/12 Nov. 2006)
Three hares were struck by dogs.

Balbriggan (25/26 November 2006)
Three hares died from injuries received following being struck by muzzled dogs.

Abbeyfeale (28/29 December 2006)
Five hares were struck, according to Ranger's report.

Clonmel (5/6/7 February 2007)
4 hares were struck, according to Ranger's report.

More information about blood sport cruelty

Coursing: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition

Carted deer hunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition

Foxhunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition

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