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Status of Irish hares is "poor": Latest report
21 May 2008

The overall conservation status of the Irish Hare is "poor" according to the "Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland" report. Issued this week by the Department of the Environment, it states that "factors likely to reduce hare numbers locally include loss of refuge areas, change from grassland to silage growing, increased urbanisation and hunting."

The report confirms that the "Main pressures" and "Threats" to the hare include "trapping, poisoning, poaching" and concludes that the overall assessment of the hare is "unfavourable" and "inadequate".

You can download the full report from:
(Section 5 deals with the hare)

You can download the report's Annex from:

In the "Background to the conservation assessment", we are told that "local factors likely to negatively influence hare numbers include loss of refuge areas for daytime shelter, such as hedgerows and rushy areas; changes in farming practices, such as the conversion of semi-natural grassland to ryegrass (Lolium spp.) dominated pasture or marginal land to forestry; increased urbanisation; hunting."

Referring to coursing, it adds: "During the coursing season (September to February), 6-7,000 hares are taken from the wild (under license), and run at coursing meetings. They are then returned to their place of capture. Re-release data suggests approximately 90% of hares are returned to the wild after coursing. However, further research is required to establish the reproductive viability of these hares post-coursing and the impact on local population demographics of hare removal and return."

ICABS has continually stressed to the Environment Department that the welfare of hares is severely compromised once they are snatched from their habitats by coursers and that their chances of survival diminish as a result of human handling and being terrorised by greyhounds.

For many years now, we have been calling on successive Environment Ministers not to issue licences for the capturing of thousands of hares for use as live lures and for all hare hunting, beagling and harrying to be outlawed.

The alarm bells have been ringing for a number of years for the Irish Hare and this report is another wake-up call for those charged with the responsibility of conserving our wildlife. It's time now for Minister Gormley to move swiftly to ensure the survival of our hares by protecting then from all hunting and coursing.


Please urgently contact Environment Minister, John Gormley, and appeal to him to prohibit all forms of hare persecution, including hare hunting and hare coursing.

(If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Minister John Gormley
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 888 2403. Fax: 01 878 8640.

Dear Minister Gormley,

The conservation status of the Irish Hare has been described as "poor" in the recently published "Report on Status of Habitats and Species in Ireland". This is cause for enormous concern to myself and the majority of Irish people who value the hare as an important part of our precious heritage.

Minister, as you are no doubt aware, most people in this country want the hare to be allowed to live free from persecution by coursing and hare hunting clubs. We oppose the cruelty inherent in these outdated activities but also the threat they pose to regional hare populations and the species as a whole.

In coursing, hares continue to die at all stages - during the capture, during the time they are kept in captivity, during the coursing meetings and also subsequent to their release back to the wild. Such deaths have been documented by your NPWS division. These timid and fragile creatures die as a result of physical injuries or from the stress caused by human handling and being chased by greyhounds.

I implore you to act on the wishes of the electorate, and on the findings of this latest report, and immediately ban coursing and hare hunting.

Thank you, Minister.

Yours sincerely,


Video: Coursing cruelty

Video: Drag Coursing

For more videos of drag coursing, please view our Drag Coursing Playlist

More information about blood sports

Foxhunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition
Coursing: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition
Carted deer hunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition

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