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Heritage Ministers urged to refuse 2022-23 licence for cruel hare coursing
28 June 2022

Heritage Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Malcolm Noonan are being urged to REFUSE a licence for another season of cruel hare coursing.

Minister O’Brien has previously observed that “hares are a protected species and are better off being in the wild rather than being held in captivity in large groups [in coursing compounds]”.

His Department colleague, Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, meanwhile, has condemned coursing, saying the suffering inflicted on hares “highlights a shocking disregard for the welfare of the animals”. In 2020, he stated: “We all want to see hare coursing ended - it's a cruel practice.”

The past licences issued by the Department of Heritage have resulted in thousands of hares being cruelly rounded up from the wild in nets, held in captivity in large groups for weeks or months and eventually forced to run for their lives in front of greyhounds.

“All hares suffer fear and stress and every coursing season, hare injuries and deaths occur,” we told Ministers O’Brien and Noonan. “Among the injuries documented are broken back, spinal injury, broken legs, damaged toes and dislocated hips.”

Hares suffer at all stages of coursing – during capture, while held captive in compounds and at the coursing meetings where they can be seen desperately running as a merciless mob cheer the greyhounds on and gamble on which dog will force the hare to change direction first.

Also flagged were ongoing fears relating the risk of disease spread among hares held captive in unnatural high density.

“The National Parks and Wildlife Service division of your department has made it clear that ‘the catching of hares in nets, their transportation in boxes and the collection and holding of hares in confined areas can all be considered to increase the risk of disease spread’,” we reminded Minister O’Brien and Noonan.

In relation to the highly contagious RHD2 virus, the NPWS has stated that "if one infected animal is found in netting for a coursing meeting then the entire capture would need to be put down." Hares affected by the virus suffer the most horrendous death, with swollen eyelids, partial paralysis and bleeding from the eyes and mouth.

We hope Ministers O’Brien and Noonan will act in the best interests of the iconic and much loved Irish Hare species and make history by refusing a 2022-23 licence.

With the suffering, stress, injury and death caused to hares at coursing meets, there should be no hesitation in finally ending this shameful activity by refusing a 2022-23 licence. This would be widely welcomed by the 77% majority of Irish citizens who want coursing banned (just 9% disagree with a ban. Source: RED C poll) and would win the government praise here and around the world.

Witness the cruelty of hare coursing in Ireland


Urge Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan to refuse 2022-23 licences for cruel hare coursing.

Minister Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fail, Dublin Fingal)
Tel: (01) 618 3802 OR (086) 251 9893

Malcolm Noonan TD (Carlow Kilkenny)
Minister of State for Heritage
Tel: (01) 618 3148 OR (01) 618 3156

With a RED C opinion poll confirming that a 77 per cent majority of citizens want hare coursing banned (with just 9% disagreeing with a ban), it is now time for politicians to consign this nasty bloodsport to history. Join us in contacting all TDs and urging them to act to ensure that a ban is urgently introduced. Visit the Oireachtas website for contact details for TDs

Urge Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to respect the wishes of the majority and ban hare coursing and all bloodsports.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Phone: +353 (0)1–618 4350 or +353 (0)21-432 0088

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar
Telephone: +353 (0)1-640 3133
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Contact Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Green Party, Sinn Fein and Labour Party TDs and urge them to pledge support for the upcoming Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill 2020.

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