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September 22 2016 5 22 /09 /September /2016 19:57
It will take guts to ban hare coursing

Letter in Irish Examiner and Irish Independent this week:

It will take guts to ban hare coursing

“Our land is his land. We never forget that” — so reads the heading over a striking colour picture of an Irish Hare that appears in a Bord na Mona newspaper ad. The message relates to the excellent conservation work that the Board has done onmore than 80,000 hectares of Irish landscape for a multitude of precious flora and fauna.

While I commend this highlighting of the hare’s entitlement to its habitat I wish that Bord na Mona’s concern for wildlife in general and this wonderful iconic creature in particular was shared by our politicians, especially the ones in power.

Successive governments have failed to protect this jewel of our wildlife heritage from deliberate, stomach churning cruelty. Coursing clubs continue to wield a vice-grip on TDs and senators who know only too well that hares can’t vote. In just a few days, at the end of September, another coursing season will commence.

An animal celebrated in Irish folklore, song, and literature will be treated as a mere plaything, a pawn in a grotesque game of chance. In scenes eerily reminiscent of Ancient Rome, fans will roar as each timid creature runs in terror from a pair of blood-crazed dogs.

Hares will dodge and swerve and evade in the tin-pot colosseums, but many will succumb to canine speed and strength.

They’ll be pummelled or mauled or have their brittle bones crushed. And the gamblers will watch the performance unfazed, marking their cards or slugging whiskey.

The Irish Hare is a unique sub-species of the Mountain Hare and a rare survivor of the Ice Age of 10,000 years ago. Lepus Timidus Hibernicus was running free on this island long before coursing clubs or political paddywhackery was ever even heard of.

Some day a government with guts will ban this obscenity that calls itself a “sport”.

John Fitzgerald

Lower Coyne Street

Callan

Co Kilkenny

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