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Join our weekly protest against Gormley's coursing licence
January 2009

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See Also: 22 hares dead in first three weeks of coursing season

Every week throughout the 2008-09 coursing season, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports will be reminding Minister John Gormley (Green Party) about the suffering being caused to thousands of hares thanks to a licence he granted to the Irish Coursing Club. Please respond every week to our updated Action Alert.

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, will be kept in captivity for up to three months. During this time, they will be mercilessly used as lures for greyhounds.

Some of the hares will be battered and mauled by the greyhounds. Some will sustain injuries so severe that they will die during or following the coursing. All will 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 is contrary to a Green Party promise to ban blood sports.

In one of several appeals to Minister Gormley, ICABS highlighted the injuries and deaths suffered by hares in the last season following the coursing licence he issued in 2007. We also flagged the conservation reasons for a licence refusal. We reminded the Minister of a report he himself issued in May (Status of EU Protected Habitats & Species in Ireland) which warned that the overall conservation status of the Irish Hare is "POOR". The reasons given included loss of habitat, increased urbanisation and hunting.

We also highlighted how the coursers themselves have complained about a lack of hares. We cited a National Parks and Wildlife Service monitoring report which quoted one coursing official as admitting that "this particular year the most difficult ever to find and capture wild hares". He went on to tell the ranger that "more man-hours were spent this year looking for hares and yet the number caught was low...the hares are just not out on the land anymore."

As part of our impassioned plea to the Minister to fulfil his duty to protect the Irish Hare, ICABS also emphasised Ireland's obligations in relation to the EU Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and Wild Fauna and Flora. We pointed to Article 14.1 of the Directive which states that any exploitation of a protected species must be "compatible with their being maintained at a favourable conservation status."

We also reminded him that coursing is now illegal in the UK and it has been stopped in Northern Ireland since 2004. Minister Gormley's Northern counterpart, Minister Sammy Wilson, recently extended the ban on hare persecution there until at least March 2009. Minister Wilson's commendable move came amid fears for the "the stability and sustainability of the hare population".


Please register your disappointment at Minister John Gormley's decision to grant a licence for another season of hare coursing. Remind him about the animal cruelty that the licence has facilitated and urge him to permanently revoke the licence.

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

Thumbs Up One-click Action Alert:
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.)

Attention: Environment Minister, John Gormley
From: [*** Insert Your Name and Location Here ***]

Dear Minister Gormley,

I wish to express my great disappointment that the cruel blood sport of hare coursing is taking place as a direct result of a licence you chose to grant to the Irish Coursing Club earlier this year. This was despite an official report confirming that the conservation status of the hare is 'POOR' and that persecution of the species is one of the 'local factors likely to negatively influence hare numbers'.

It is shameful that a cruel blood sport like coursing is still taking place in a modern Ireland. Minister, please recall the Green Party's pre-election promise to end blood sports and act now to stop this cruel activity.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive action for the Irish Hare.

Video: Coursing cruelty

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Video: Urge the Green party to ban blood sports

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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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