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22 hares dead in first three weeks of coursing season
7 November 2008

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ICABS has launched a fresh appeal to Minister John Gormley following sickening revelations that at least 22 hares have been killed during the first three weeks of the current coursing season. The Green Party Minister has been urged to stop the suffering by immediately revoking the licence he issued to the Irish Coursing Club.

Details about the number of hare deaths surfaced after ICABS Vice-President, Deputy Tony Gregory, questioned the Minister about recent fatalities.

Minister Gormley admitted that coursing meetings from the beginning of the season up to the end of October have resulted in the deaths of at least 22 hares. This figure relates to just 14 meetings out of a total of 19 up to that point in the season which is scheduled to run until March.

In a letter of appeal to Minister Gormley today, we made an impassioned plea to him to withdraw the licence. "These figures are an explicit reminder that the coursing licence you issued is resulting in terrible stress, injury, suffering and death to this most gentle and inoffensive species. Each of the 22 hares are dead as a direct result of the licence you issued to the Irish Coursing Club. More hares will suffer. More hares will die. Please act now to stop this assault on a species you are entrusted, as Environment Minister, to protect."

The licence issued by Minister Gormley allows thousands of hares to be forcefully removed from the wild in nets. The creatures, which will have suffered the stress of being netted, handled by humans and transported in crates to coursing enclosures, are kept in captivity for up to three months before being used as lures for greyhounds.

Some of the hares are battered and mauled by the greyhounds. Some sustain injuries so severe that they die during or following the coursing. All suffer the fear and stress of running for their lives.

Minister Gormley issued this blood sport licence despite compelling conservation reasons for it to be refused. The licence is also contrary to the Green Party's pre-election promise that they would end blood sports in government

Hare Coursing Gallery - Image 3
Minister Gormley's licensing of coursing for the 2008-09 season has resulted in 22 hares dying so far this season. Please join our appeal to Minister Gormley to withdraw the licence now.

Deputy Tony Gregory's Dail Question

Question 232 - Answered on 6th November, 2008

Tony Gregory:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of hares killed or which subsequently died at coursing meetings (details supplied) during October and November 2008; and if this represents an increase on the average at these meetings.

Written reply. Ref No: 39080/08

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Gormley):

Hare coursing in the State is administered by the Irish Coursing Club, set up under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958. Statutory responsibility for the Act is a matter for the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. My responsibilities under the Wildlife Acts relate to the conservation of populations of certain protected species including hares. My Department recently issued a licence under the Wildlife Acts to the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) allowing its affiliated clubs to net hares for the purpose of hare coursing for the 2008/2009 season, subject to certain conditions. One of these conditions is that the ICC must report on each hare coursing meeting held.

In relation to the 19 hare coursing meetings referred to in the question, my Department has received reports on 14 of these meetings to date. The reports for the meetings scheduled to take place on 1 and 2 November 2008 have not yet been received. The number of hares killed or which subsequently died at the meetings reported upon was 22 compared to 27 and at the equivalent meetings held last year.


Join our appeal to Minister John Gormley to withdraw the coursing licence.

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

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Click here to send an email to Minister Gormley
Tel: 01 888 2403. Fax: 01 878 8640.

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

Dear Minister Gormley,

I am sickened to learn that the licence you issued to the Irish Coursing Club has already left at least 22 hares dead.

I fully support the Irish Council Against Blood Sports appeal to you to immediately stop the suffering by withdrawing this licence.

This decent and compassionate move would be welcomed by the majority of Irish people who want this appalling blood sport outlawed. It would also be in line with your party's anti-blood sports stance and your pre-election promise to end blood sports when in government.

Yours sincerely,

[*** Insert Your Name and Location Here ***]

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Hare coursing cruelty (2007/08 Season)
Source: National Parks & Wildlife Service (Freedom of Information)

Dundalk & Dowdallshill, December 26/27, 2007
According to ranger reports, a total of 7 hares died as a result of being hit by muzzled dogs.

Gorey, Co. Wexford, 21/22 October, 2007
13 hares hit by dogs over 2 days of coursing, with five dying as a result of their injuries.

Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Nov 24/25, 07
9 hares hit by dogs over 2 days, with 5 dying of injuries, according to NPWS report, and 1 hare 'escaping' from paddock. Meanwhile, the ICC control steward in his report claimed that 5 hares died of 'natural causes' and 1 'escaped' from paddock.

Tradaree, January 12/13, 2008
8 hares hit over 2 days, with 3 dying from their injuries. Meanwhile, ICC control steward states these 3 died from 'natural causes'.

Tubbercurry, January 11/12/13, 2008
26 hares hit by dogs over the 3 days of coursing, with 14 described as being mauled. 1 hare was found dead.

North Kilkenny, Dec 22& 23, 2007
4 hares hit on Day 2, with 4 injured and 4 dying of injuries, according to ranger, while ICC Control Steward reported 5 hares hit and 4 dying of 'natural causes' ??

Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry, October 13 & 14, 2007
12 hares hit , 3 killed, 1 injured, 1 put down, 1 died of 'natural causes'. 10 hares were deemed unfit for coursing by vet, T. McCarthy

Kilflynn, Co. Kerry, December 1st/2nd, 2007
6 hares hit by greyhounds over two days, with one killed and two dying of 'natural causes'. It was noted on the accompanying vet's report that 3 hares were 'sick or otherwise unfit after coursing event' on Day 1, and 10 on day 2. This corresponds with the ranger's report, which states that 3 hares were released on Day 1, and 10 on Day 2. ???

Castleisland, Co. Kerry, October 28 & 29, 2007
7 hares hit over 2 days of coursing, with I hare killed and 2 died of 'natural causes', while veterinary report states that 7 hares were unfit for coursing on day 1 and 2 'escapes/deaths' on morning of 30th.

Abbeydorney, Co. Kerry, October 20 & 21, 2007
6 hares hit by greyhounds, 2 injured and 2 put down, with 1 killed.

Ballyduff, Co. Kerry, November 16/17/18
4 hares hit over 2 days, according to ranger. 1killed 1 injured and 1 put down because of injuries, and 2 died of 'natural causes'.

Rathcormac, Co. Cork, Nov 24 & 25, 2007
10 hares hit, with 2 injured and "planned to be put down, but not done in my presence," according to Ranger, and 1 'dying late in the evening of the 24th'. The ranger stated that "during one of the courses, a hare ran to the side of the coursing park, followed by the 2 muzzled greyhounds. The hare got through the fencing out into the general field and the two dogs jumped the fencing. One dog dislodged the muzzle and caught the hare. The hare was not killed but was badly injured and was left in a box with another injured hare. They were both too injured to be released and were to be put down but this was not done in my presence." Ranger could not state if hares were re-coursed. 3 hares were unaccounted for at the end of the event. Meanwhile, the ICC Control Steward claims that 72 hares were released - conflicting with ranger's release no.

Wexford & District, Dec 12 & 13
16 hares hit. According to veterinary return, 8 hares were injured, but there is no mention of how these hares were treated, with all 73 hares, which were present at start of meeting, reported by CR to have been returned to wild. This raises concerns about releasing injured hares back into the wild. In addition, veterinary return cited 6 hares unfit for coursing on Day 1 and 12 hares unfit on Day 2. Were these hares coursed?

Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, 24/25 November, 2007
Two rangers attended this event. One of the rangers noted that one of the hares was bleeding from its hind leg, as hares were being boxed on Day 1. He noted one hare hit, which was seen by a vet. Another ranger reported that the dogs pinned the hare. One of the dog's muzzles seemed to loosen, according to the ranger, and the dog held the hare in the air. On Day 2, Ranger was shown two dead hares, including the hare that was seen by the vet on the previous day. A ranger who attended Trim and Balbriggan made the following observations: "At both meetings the odd hare will cry out while being handled when the ear tag is being identified, causing more stress to the I mentioned before, micro chipping is far more humane...And will not come off, tearing the ear, leaving it open to infection.

"I have also noticed at several meetings down through the years that if the dogs hit and pin the hare, the guy on the horse always gets in front of the Ranger to prevent us from seeing what is happening."

Castletown-Geoghegan, Westmeath, 15/16 December, 2007
11 hares were hit by dogs over 2 days. It was stated that 3 were caught and treated by a vet. 4 uncoursed hares died. A vet concluded that their body condition was poor. Meanwhile, the ICC control steward claims in his report that only 2 hares were hit.

Cavan & District, November 16/17/18
5 hares hit according to coursers, 3 of which were 'released' and one 'escapee' (according to coursing club). Coursers also told ranger that a further five animals had "either escaped or disappeared during the holding period following capture". A leveret was born in captivity, indicating that a pregnant hare had been captured, which is a breach of licence conditions.

Freshford, Co. Kilkenny, November 3 & 4, 2007
3 hares hit, with 2 dying from their injuries, according to ranger's report. Meanwhile, ICC control steward states that no hares were hit, and 2 died of 'natural causes'.

Listowel, Co. Kerry, November 9/10, 2007
8 hares hit, and 2 put down because of injuries, with one hare dying of 'natural causes' according to ranger. The vet deemed 23 hares in total (13 on day 1, and 10 on day 2) as 'sick or otherwise unfit after coursing event' ???

Glin, Co. Limerick, Oct 6
8 hares died before coursing meeting. Post mortems revealed enteritis (haemorrhagic).

Templetouhy, Jan 5 & 6 2008
5 hares were found dead in the paddock prior to the coursing event. The findings of a post-mortem were consistent with coccidiosis, a condition which is exacerbated by the stress of being taken from the wild, i.e. netting, handling, transport, etc.

There were 4 hares hit by greyhounds over the 2 days. 1 injured hare was brought to a vet and declared fit to be released, but 'showed limited mobility' when released. It was stated that 'two hares were pinned on day one of the coursing meeting. These animals were boxed and kept separate from the main bunch of hares till inspected by attending vet. Both hares were considered unharmed and were returned to the main paddock. There was a query re hares being brought down from the paddock to be boxed again, and whether these hares were separated from coursed hares.

Tralee, Co.Kerry, December 26 & 27, 2007
2 hares hit, 1 killed, 1 injured and put down, with 1 dying of 'natural causes), according to ranger, while ICC Control Steward's report states that 2 hares were hit, 1 hare killed, and 1 put down, with no hare dying of natural causes??

Killimer/Kilrush, Nov 24 & 25
9 hares hit , with 1 injured and 1 put down because of injuries, according to CR report.

Glanworth, Dec 4/5/6
5 hares hit over 2 days, with no injuries or kills cited by CR, while 69 hares released, leaving 7 hares accounted for, given that there were 75 hares on Day 1. No explanation is given for this. Meanwhile, Control Steward for ICC states that 5 hares were hit over the three days, with 1 hare being killed and 1 injured, 1 put down because of injuries and 1 dying of 'natural causes' and 1 'escaped from paddock', a total of 5 hares, still leaving 2 unaccounted for.

Ballinagar, Co. Offaly, Oct 27 & 28, 2007
5 hares hit on Day 1, 2 injured and 2 died from injuries, while on Day 2 1 hare was hit and 1 died from injuries. Meanwhile, ICC control steward cites only 3 hares hit on Day 1, with 2 dying of 'natural causes' on Day 1, while 2 hit on Day 2 and again 2 dying of 'natural causes', which conflicts with NPWS ranger report.

Ranger observes in his report that "62 hares were used for coursing and I noticed this year that the number and the quality of hares appeared to be poor, compared to previous years..I also noticed that the number of coursing events had to be cut because there was an insufficient number of hares." In addition he stated that a club official pointed out to him that they found "this particular year the most difficult ever to find and capture wild hares. He said more man-hours were spent this year looking for hares and yet the number caught was low. He said that the hares are just not out on the land anymore. He also told me that his club might have to amalgamate with Edenderry as the Ballinagar club is struggling to find hares any more."

Mallow, Co. Cork, Nov 11/12, 2008-06-02
There were 72 hares boxed at the start of the meeting, with no ear-tags, but green dye, while 4 hares had "twine tied in their ears", according to CR. 7 hares were hit (according to ICC Control Steward). 69 hares were released, according to CR, leaving 3 hares unaccounted for.

East Donegal, Dec 29/30
Ranger attended on Day 2 only and cited 1 hare hit by muzzled dogs. 65 hares were released, leaving 2 hares unaccounted for.

Blarney (Macroom Coursing Club) Jan 16/17 08
5 hares hit by dogs over 2 days, with 1 killed and 1 injured (broken femur) which had to be put down. At the release there were 4 hares missing, which the club claim had escaped.

Loughrea, Co. Galway, 19, 20 & 21 October, 2007
There were 76 hares at the start of the meeting. 4 hares were hit over the 3 days, according to ranger. 1 hare was found dead in paddock on day after meeting, and 2 died while being put in boxes for release, which post-mortems were not carried out on. Rangers supervised the release of 69 hares, which leaves 4 hares unaccounted for. Meanwhile, the control steward for the ICC in his 'report' stated that no hares died at the meeting in contrast to the ranger's report above. He claimed, however, that 3 hares 'escaped from paddock' and 1 hare was 'unaccounted for'.

Milltown Malbay, October 27 & 28, 2007
6 hares were hit over 2 days. 1 hare 'escaped' according to ICC control steward's report.

Galway & Oranmore, Nov 17/18, 07
Ranger stated that there were 55 hares in captivity before the meeting. He was contacted on Nov 11 by the coursing club and told that 6 hares had 'escaped', leaving 49 hares. 4 hares hit over 2 days. 1 hare died during release, which was sent for post-mortem, results of which are unknown.

Clonakilty, Co. Cork, January 112/13, 2008
4 hares hit, 4 injured and 1 died of injury with 2 'found dead'.

Trim, Co. Meath, 3 & 4 November, 2007
5 hares hit.

Lixnaw, Co. Kerry, 2/3/4 November, 2007
4 hares hit, 1 killed and 1 died of 'natural causes'.

Abbeyfeale, Co. Kerry, December 29/30
2 hares hit by dogs.

Roseberry Open, December 26, 2007
This was a non-muzzled event. Two hares caught, and one killed

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