Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Question 791 - Answered on 11 June 2013
Maureen O'Sullivan, TD (Dublin Central, Independent): To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to statements made by vets as presented in the recent ICABS report, that during cold and wet weather, hares are subjected to health conditions such as pneumonia, pleurisy, peritonitis consistent with septicemia and bacterial infections which compromise their chances of survival during hare coursing meetings; if, in view of this report, he will consider a ban on hare coursing during such adverse weather conditions to ensure that hares have a maximum chance of survival; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Maureen O'Sullivan, TD (Dublin Central, Independent): To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the statistics collected by ICABS of hare coursing deaths at coursing meetings monitored by the National Parks and Wildlife Service; if he has noted one ranger's account at Liscannor coursing meeting that healthy hares are kept as substitutes in the event of hares becoming injured; if he considers the number of deaths, injuries and euthanasia as constituting a high number; if this contradicts the notion that hare coursing is a non-fatal activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Clare Daly, TD (Dublin North, United Left): To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will intervene with the organisers of the hare coursing event in Murrintow in Wexford, last December, where sick and injured hares where released into the wild without veterinary intervention in contravention of the 1911 Protection of Animals Act.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney: (Cork South-Central, Fine Gael):
I propose to take Questions Nos. 791, 802 and 809 together.
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 ICC has a system of regulation in place to underpin standards in coursing.
Under the terms of the Wildlife Acts, a licence is needed by the ICC, covering their affiliated coursing clubs, if they wish to capture or tag live hares. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under section 24 of the Wildlife Act 1976, has responsibility for the issue of an annual licence to the ICC and its affiliated clubs to capture live hares. These licences currently have a total of 26 conditions attached to them. Conditions of the licences cover a range of items, including provision of data on hare captures and releases, not coursing hares more than once per day, not coursing sick or injured hares, etc.
The ICC ensures that a veterinary surgeon and a control steward are present at all coursing meetings. In addition to this, veterinary staff from my Department and rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (part of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) carry out random monitoring inspections during the coursing season to verify compliance with the licences and the rules governing animal welfare.
As a further control, a Monitoring Committee on Coursing was established during the 1993/94 coursing season and is comprised 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 interest of animal both for hares and greyhounds alike.
A very high proportion (98.09%) of the hares captured for hare coursing were returned to the wild at the end of the 2012/2013 season.
The matters that you have brought to my attention will be considered at the next meeting of the Monitoring Committee on Coursing.