Minister refuses to ban hare coursing but says laws important

Michael Creed acknowledges rules are ‘an Irish solution to an Irish problem’

Independent TD Clare Daly said that last year 7,000 hares were taken from the wild to be used in coursing events. Photograph:  Ian Hodgson/Reuters

Independent TD Clare Daly said that last year 7,000 hares were taken from the wild to be used in coursing events. Photograph: Ian Hodgson/Reuters

 

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has refused to ban hare coursing outright but acknowledged the regulations are “an Irish solution to an Irish problem”.

He warned that hare coursing organisers had to operate within the law and within the terms of their coursing licences.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly has repeatedly called for a ban on coursing, claiming the reality of coursing was very different from the rules in place to protect the welfare of hares. She said the State’s regulation of the issue “is another sort of Irish solution to an Irish problem”.

There was an “incredible contradiction where on the one hand hares are protected under the Wildlife Act but on the other under the Animal Health and Welfare Act all animals are protected with the exception of hares to be coursed,” Ms Daly said.

Last year 7,000 hares were taken from the wild to be used in coursing events, but she said the Irish mountain hare was becoming extinct.

The Dublin Fingal TD said reports from the National Parks and Wildlife Service showed only 17 of the 75 events held here last year had officials from the service in attendance to monitor coursing regulation.

Mr Creed said “it is an Irish solution to an Irish problem”, adding that he was not sure if Ms Daly was saying “we should have an imported solution to an Irish problem”.

During Dáil questions this week he pointed out that a very high proportion of hares netted for coursing were returned successfully to the wild.

He said that at the end of the 2014-2015 season, 99.3 per cent of hares captured were released in a healthy condition after coursing.

Ms Daly said many of the hares released back into the wild “are in a very distressed state and die afterwards” and this was reported by the wildlife service.