Department investigates hare-netting allegations


CLAIMS THAT hares were netted on two west coast islands last year without the permission of the landowners are being investigated by the Department of the Environment.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports said the hares were netted on Hog island off Clare and Oyster island off Sligo in breach of Section 44 of the Wildlife Act.

It said documents obtained by it under the Freedom of Information Act from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, showed that in last October, 39 hares were netted from Hog island for Killimer Kilrush coursing club.

Other documents showed that in December 2009, 34 hares were taken from Oyster island for use by the Tubbercurry/ Kilcreevin/ Ballymoe coursing club.

The council said that when it contacted the owners of the islands, it was informed that permission to take the hares had not been given in either case.

“Furthermore, we were informed that in the case of Oyster island, the Rosses Point gardaí instructed the hare netters to leave the island on December 16th, 2009, and recorded 47 hares taken by them in contrast to the club’s figure of 34 hares,” it said.

In a statement last night the Department of the Environment said it was investigating the cases identified by the council.

The department said while it had issued the Irish Coursing Club with their licences to capture hares for the 2010-2011 season, the Minister can still apply sanctions against individual clubs if it can be proven that they breached conditions of the licence.

The council against blood sports had called on the Minister for the Environment John Gormley to refuse licences to these clubs on the basis that they breached the Wildlife Act and to prosecute those involved under the Wildlife Act.

The Irish Coursing Club, which controls coursing in Ireland, said it had received a letter from the National Parks and Wildlife Service containing the complaints about the allegations relating to Oyster island.

This letter, which was dated August 19th, was forwarded by the coursing club to the Tubbercurry club for its comments.

Michael Kilcoyne, secretary of the Tubbercurry and district coursing club, who is abroad, said he would deal with the allegations made against the club when he returned home later this week.

Efforts to contact the other club involved, Kilimor/Kilrush club, were unsuccessful but the Irish Coursing Club said it would be asking both clubs for reports on the allegations made.

The netting season for hares for the 2010-2011 season began last weekend and the Irish Council Against Blood Sports criticised Mr Gormley for allowing netting to go ahead.