Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 526 - Answered on 28th March, 2006

Ciarán Cuffe: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason he extended the hare hunting season by granting a licence to the Irish Masters of Beagles Association, which allowed 20 hunts to chase and kill hares in counties Clare, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Tipperary, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow, throughout the month of March 2006.

Ref No: 11557/06. Written reply.

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): Section 26(2) of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, allows the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to grant to the master or other person having charge for the time being of a pack of beagles or harriers a licence to hunt hares in any district or districts specified in the licence with that pack on such day or days, being a day or days which are not specified in the hares order providing for the open season, as are both specified in the licence and are in the year in which the licence is granted.

Following consideration of applications from the Irish Masters of Beagles Association and Cork Southern Hunt Club, it was decided to issue these organisations with a licence for the period from 1 March 2006 to 31 March 2006. Licences have been given for this period annually for the past number of years. As a condition of the licences a return giving the dates and number of hares hunted and killed on each of the days specified shall be made to the national parks and wildlife service of my Department.

Returns from previous years have shown that beagling results in extremely low hare mortality giving no strong conservation reasons to oppose the issue of these licenses: 2005 — three hares killed; 2004 — two hares killed; 2003 — three hares killed; 2002 — two hares killed; 2001 — three hares killed; 2000 — three hares killed.

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