Green Party deputy leader calls for end to hare coursing and hunting
12 June 2018
The deputy leader of The Green Party has called for an end to hare hunting and the use of hares in cruel coursing.
In a recent Dail question, Catherine Martin TD (Dublin Rathdown) asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht "in view of expert reports that hare numbers have significantly reduced here, she will consider a suspension of all hare hunting and use of wild hares in coursing in order that the population can regrow."
As reported by ICABS in April, wildlife experts warned on national radio that the Irish Hare is "in trouble", with dwindling numbers. A feature on RTE Radio 1’s Mooney Goes Wild show focused on the translocation of hares from Dublin Airport to areas around Ireland where they are "becoming extinct". Programme presenter Derek Mooney told listeners that while hares are thriving at Dublin Airport, "their numbers elsewhere around the country are dwindling". Speaking on the show, ecologist Dr Karina Dingerkus said that "over the last 50 years, numbers have declined significantly."
"We know that hare populations do fluctuate naturally but we don’t know by how much," Dr Dingerkus stated. "We certainly know that numbers have declined." Later in the programme, she added: "We don’t see very many…Certainly over the past 50 years, we know numbers have dropped dramatically…they’re in trouble…we do know that they have been dropping over a long period of time."
Mooney Goes Wild reporter Terry Flanagan noted that "there is an overall trend over the past number of years and that trend is downwards."
Responding to Deputy Martin’s Dail Question, Minister Josepha Madigan – who shamefully licenses hare coursing – said that her Department "is not aware of any expert reports which indicate a national decline in the population of hares".
Referring to a 5-year-old conservation report, Minister Madigan claimed that "the Hare is found throughout the country from coastal habitats to upland heath and bog. The Hare is widespread and common in Ireland with a broad habitat niche."
Hare coursing is responsible for major interference with the species during seven months of the year (August to February). Thousands of hares are snatched from the wild in nets, held in captivity for months, manhandled, fed an unnatural diet and eventually forced to run for their lives from pairs of greyhounds. Every coursing season, hares are injured and killed on coursing fields and those who survive the ordeal are at risk of later dying as a result of stress-related capture myopathy.
Hares are not only under threat from cruel coursers but also from shooters and hunters with packs of hounds.
According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website, the permitted "hunting period" for the Irish Hare runs from 26th September to 28th February and the "manner of hunting" is "shooting with firearms; coursing at regulated coursing matches; hunting with packs of beagles and harriers."
Warnings by wildlife experts that the Irish Hare is in trouble with numbers having "dropped dramatically" should set alarm bells ringing in Minister Madigan’s office and at the National Parks and Wildlife Service. They should learn from what happened to the curlew, a bird now on the brink of extinction in Ireland.
It wasn’t until 2012, when its numbers had plummeted by up to 96%, that a ban on curlew shooting was finally put in place.
It is now more clear than ever that the Irish Hare must be given full protection. Urgently contact Minister Josepha Madigan and the National Parks and Wildlife Service and urge them to stop licensing hare coursing and prohibit the hunting and shooting of hares.
Minister Josepha Madigan
Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht
Phone: +353 (0)1 631 3800
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Gerry.Leckey@ahg.gov.ie, email@example.com
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Director, National Parks and Wildlife Service
Phone: +353 (0)1 888 3242
See the cruelty of hare coursing on our Youtube channel
DAIL QUESTION AND ANSWER
Catherine Martin TD (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party): To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if, in view of expert reports that hare numbers have significantly reduced here, she will consider a suspension of all hare hunting and use of wild hares in coursing in order that the population can regrow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21643/18]
Josepha Madigan TD (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael): My Department is not aware of any expert reports which indicate a national decline in the population of hares.
EU Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) requires Ireland to make a detailed report every six years on the conservation status of all listed species, including the hare. Ireland’s most recent report in 2013 included a comprehensive assessment of the range, population status, habitat and threats for the Irish hare.
The 2013 report stated that the Hare is found throughout the country from coastal habitats to upland heath and bog. The Hare is widespread and common in Ireland with a broad habitat niche. None of the identified threats are considered likely to impact on its conservation status in the foreseeable future and the Overall Conservation Status was assessed as favourable.
In addition to the reporting requirements of the EU Habitats Directive, data on the distribution of the hare is being collected continuously by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the recent Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015 provided a summary of the species’ range, demonstrating that it remains widespread across the country.
My Department recently commissioned a new assessment of the status of hare’s population in Ireland. The survey work to inform this population assessment has already begun with the main survey work occurring over the 2018/19 winter period. The final report is due in mid-2019.
In relation to hare coursing meetings, the recent 2017/18 hare coursing season finished at the end of February last. All reports in relation to the season will be reviewed and all issues arising, including possible breaches of conditions, will be investigated and considered in the context of licenses for the 2018/19 coursing season.
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