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Irish Hare Initiative calls for coursing licence refusal
18 August 2009

Hare conservation group, the Irish Hare Initiative, has joined calls for Minister John Gormley to refuse a licence to the Irish Coursing Club. In a statement, spokesperson Mike Rendle pointed to the "compelling conservation case for refusing licences to net hares for coursing".

The group has appealed for action in response to the news that the 2009 Northern Ireland hare survey [carried out by Quercus on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency] has recorded the lowest number of hares since 2004. Annual counts offer the most reliable indication of population change. 98 hares were counted in 2009 compared to 187 in 2008 and 247 in 2007. These figures represent a decline of 50% in two years.

Mr Rendle flagged the pattern of long-term population decline in the last 100 years. 'Recent surveys have added to the growing body of evidence that our hares are disappearing', he said. 'This is a wake up call for our politicians and government departments. The current review of the Northern Ireland Wildlife Order presents the opportunity to remove the Irish hare from the quarry list and help secure its survival for future generations."

'Statutory protection will underpin a wider conservation strategy as well as send a clear signal that we are serious about saving this beleaguered species from extinction', he added.

'The situation demands urgency, not complacency. We must use every means at our disposal to preserve this unique animal and allowing the Irish hare to remain a quarry species is simply not an option'.

The Irish Hare Initiative is an independent NGO working to conserve Irish hares.
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