Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 159 - Answered on 14th March, 2012

Maureen O'Sullivan, TD: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the fact that at the recent JP Mc Manus Irish Cup Coursing at Limerick Racecourse that eight hares were mauled over the three days, proving that muzzled greyhounds can cause injury and death to hares; if he will therefore consider a ban on coursing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (video evidence available)

Written Answer. Ref No: 14409/12

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy 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, which is the statutory body with responsibility for the improvement and development of the greyhound industry, greyhound racing and coursing.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under section 34 of the Wildlife Act 1976, has responsibility for the issue of an annual licence to the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) and its affiliated clubs to capture live hares.

I have been informed by the ICC that a veterinary surgeon and an ICC Control Steward were present and that a total of 87 hares commenced the meeting, none were injured, 86 were subsequently released back to the wild and one died prior to the final day’s coursing.

The ICC has also informed me that 98.32% of hares netted for coursing in the past season were released back to the wild and that injury to hares by muzzled greyhounds is a very rare occurrence. The ICC has a robust system of regulation in place to underpin the maintenance of standards in the sport.

A Monitoring Committee on Coursing was established in 1993/94 comprising Departmental officials and representatives from both the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) 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 interest of animal welfare both for hares and greyhounds alike. Consequently the Government does not plan to ban hare coursing.

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