Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Question 36 - Answered on 12th November, 2014
Maureen O'Sullivan, TD (Dublin Central, Independent)
To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in view of the fact that hare coursing is now a criminal offence in Britain, Northern Ireland and much of Europe, if it is time to make this barbaric so called sport a practice of the past, follow in the footsteps of Australia by replacing live hare coursing with drag coursing to ensure no loss of jobs in the industry; if he acknowledges the extent of injuries to hares and greyhounds to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney
Under the provisions of the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, the regulation of coursing is chiefly a matter for the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon (BnG).
The welfare of greyhounds involved in coursing is provided for in the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 which inter alia requires that persons who course greyhounds must have regard to the “Code of Practice in the Care & Welfare of the Greyhound”, developed jointly by the ICC and BnG. The ICC has assured my Department that it has extensive systems and practices in place to underpin the welfare of animals participating in coursing and that it goes to great lengths to ensure the highest standards of hare and greyhound welfare are adhered to.
An enhanced system of regulation for the detection of prohibited substances in coursing greyhounds, accompanied by more stringent sanctions, was put in place by the ICC in August 2012. The Executive Committee of the ICC has also established a sub-committee (the Testing Review Committee) to examine current practices for the detection of prohibited substances in coursing greyhounds with a view to extending the scope and frequency of testing. The Committee will report back to an EGM with recommendations for consideration and approval by members before the end of March 2015.
The ICC has established a “Hare and Field Committee” charged with assisting individual clubs in improving their infrastructure, facilities and knowledge base. Furthermore, the ICC provides a grant to individual clubs to improve their facilities.
An inspection is carried out by the ICC in advance of every coursing meeting to check that all arrangements are in place and ready for the event to proceed. This inspection is carried out by an ICC Control Steward, a member of the ICC Hare and Field Committee and a veterinary surgeon.
Each coursing meeting is overseen by one ICC Control Steward, one veterinary surgeon and one member of the ICC Executive Committee. The ICC Executive Committee member has wide-ranging powers to curtail or abandon a meeting The ICC has on occasion postponed coursing coursing meetings due to adverse weather conditions.
The role of the veterinary surgeon at coursing meetings has been expanded, including the inspection of hares before and after coursing.
As a further control measure, Rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and veterinary inspectors attend from my Department attend a number of coursing meetings in a monitoring capacity.
The ICC organised a seminar, attended by the vast majority of clubs, giving expert advice on how to care for hares. The ICC also has a guidance document on the “Care of the Hare” almost ready to roll-out to clubs; much of the information in the document has already been relayed to Clubs.
Hares are assembled for coursing in accordance with a licence granted by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. These licences have 26 conditions attached, dealing with items such as welfare and veterinary supervision at coursing meetings. Conditions of the licences require Coursing Clubs to:
o have a veterinary surgeon in attendance at a coursing meeting,
o not course hares more than once per day,
o not course sick or injured hares,
o have adequate escapes for hares during coursing,
o comply with Irish Coursing Club directives,
o co-operate with National Parks and Wildlife Service staff .
A Monitoring Committee on Coursing was established during the 1993/94 coursing season and comprises of officials from my Department and representatives from both the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the ICC to monitor developments in coursing and in that regard the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is run in a well controlled and responsible manner in the interests of both hares and greyhounds alike.
A review of the outcome for the most recent season indicates that the procedures and processes in place in terms of animal welfare are appropriate given that 99.4% of hares were released back to the wild at the conclusion of coursing.
I am informed by the ICC that drag/lure coursing is not a feasible alternative to coursing because coursing greyhounds will not chase a drag/ lure indefinitely and that after chasing a drag/lure once or twice the coursing greyhound will lose interest and disengage from the chase.
It is my belief that the systems in place to oversee coursing are effective, proportionate and working well and accordingly, I have no plans to ban hare coursing.
Videos: Ireland's cruel hare coursing
Videos: Drag coursing, the humane alternative to hare coursing
Express your support for a ban on coursing. Sign and share petitions
Urge Minister Heather Humphreys to show compassion for the persecuted Irish Hare and revoke the coursing licence she issued.
Email "Stop the cruelty. Revoke the hare coursing licence" to Heather.Humphreys@oireachtas.ie
Tel: (01) 631 3802 or (01) 631 3800
Leave a comment on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/heather.humphreysfg
Tweet to Heather Humphreys: @HHumphreysFG
Tweet to @HHumphreysFG
(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.)
I am one of the majority who want hare coursing outlawed. I am writing to urge you to revoke the licence you issued to the Irish Coursing Club.
In coursing, hares suffer at all stages - during the capture, during the time they are kept in captivity and during the coursing meetings where they run for their lives in front of greyhounds. Among the injuries recorded are broken legs, damaged toes and dislocated hips. Every season, hare injuries and deaths are documented.
I ask you to please act on the wishes of the majority, show compassion and permanently revoke the licence.
Appeal to the Minister for Agriculture
Please appeal to the Minister for Agriculture to remove an exemption for hare coursing from the Animal Health and Welfare Act.
Simon Coveney, TD
Minister for Agriculture
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-607 2884 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.
Urgently contact An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and ask him to back a ban on hare coursing.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
Department of the Taoiseach,
Upper Merrion Street,
Contact all your local TDs now. Demand that they urgently push for a ban on hare coursing and all bloodsports. Tell them you are one of the majority who want coursing banned. Remind them that coursing is already illegal in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Urge them to respect the wishes of the majority of the electorate and back a ban.
Find out their contact details
Please also arrange a meeting with your TDs at their local clinics.