Irish animal protection groups are renewing our call for a total ban on live hare coursing following the latest series of shocking reports on coursing events compiled by State appointed wildlife rangers
Reports on hare coursing meetings in Ireland for the 2011/2012 season filed by wildlife rangers attached to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have just been received under FOI by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports and passed on to other animal protection groups including our own.
The reports refer to hares being struck, mauled, and horribly injured at coursing events held in eleven different counties.
We include (below) summaries of the reports, and extracts from them. The ranger’s report on the “Westmeath United” coursing event is especially graphic and hard-hitting, referring to a hare being “tossed and mauled”, another animal mauled on the ground by two dogs, another struck five times by the dogs, and the ranger refers to the distressed crying of a hare that has suffered injury.
Reports for other meetings tell a similar story of terror and suffering, related in factual, objective language.
CACS regards this new information as especially significant because it completely demolishes the case for coursing made by three Fine Gael government ministers who have repeatedly defended the practice. Their ludicrous claim that hares come to no harm in coursing and that the existing rules governing the “sport” protect the animals is completely blown away by this evidence.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan (who presented a trophy at one coursing event in February), Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan, and Junior Agriculture Minister Shane McEntee have repeatedly claimed that the hare faces no danger in coursing. Minister McEntee said he could see no problem whatsoever with the practice as, he opined, “the hare is never in any danger whatsoever”. Minister Hogan believes coursing is a “legitimate rural pursuit”, and Minister Deenihan recently assured the Irish Coursing Club that he would do everything in his power to support hare coursing.
We are challenging all TDs and Senators to examine, honesty and objectively, the latest reports which demonstrate very clearly that hares continue to be mauled, forcibly struck, and subjected to horrific injuries in coursing despite muzzling of the greyhounds. And this is apart altogether from the immense stress and suffering for the animals involved in capture (with nets), transportation, and confinement in unnatural captivity.
The government cannot dismiss the wildlife rangers’ reports as “anti blood sports propaganda” as the rangers are appointed by the State and are completely independent in their duties. The reports make it clear that the only way to eliminate cruelty from coursing is to take the hare out of it. A mechanical lure would recreate all the fun and excitement of the practice, minus the suffering of a timid and defenseless animal.
In the light of these revelations, we are calling on members of the Oireachtas to reject the government’s proposed exemption of hare coursing from prohibition under the new animal health and welfare bill. Far from exempting such a horrific practice with a proven track record of extreme and unnecessary animal cruelty, we believe it should be comprehensively banned under the Act, as it has been in Britain, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and indeed most of the countries that once permitted it.
Incidents of the kind referred to in the NPWS reports were filmed at the so-called “Irish Cup” hare coursing event at Limerick racecourse last February. That event was sponsored by multi-millionaire businessman JP McManus:
Following are summaries of the FOI reports re the relevant hare coursing events, and extracts from them, courtesy of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports:
Ennis/Clarecastle, December 10/11, 2011
According to ranger’s report, on day one, five hares were hit, with three dying
in the escape after coursing. On day two, seven hares were hit, two killed, four
injured, one put down and two died from injuries. This amounts to a total of
Gorey, Co. Wexford, 29/30 October, 2011
Over the two days of coursing sixteen hares were hit by dogs, with nine pinned
and seven dying of their injuries, according to NPWS ranger’s report.
Listowel, Co. Kerry, Oct 12/13, 2011
Seven hares hit by greyhounds, three killed, three injured and two put down because of
injuries, plus one died in coursing compound. A total of seven fatalities.
Millstreet, Co. Cork, December 30/31, 2012
Three hares were hit by dogs, three hares were dead at end of coursing. Ranger
noted that “a number of hares (at least three, probably more) had
conjunctivitis, as confirmed by Vet. At least nine hares had foot injuries.”
Murrintown, Wexford, 26/27 December, 2011
Ranger reported six hares hit by muzzled dogs on Day two, with six injured and
two killed. Meanwhile veterinary report cited twelve hares unfit for coursing,
four hares injured and sixteen “sick or otherwise unfit” after coursing.
According to this coursing club’s Hare Capture Return, eighty-six hares were
captured for coursing. However a figure of seventy-five was cited at the start of
coursing on day one, leaving a discrepancy of eleven hares. In a memo from the
ranger to his superior, he cited that the club informed him that they
had a “break in on their hare paddock” and that “eight hares were missing
and three killed”.
Tradaree, Co. Clare November 12/13, 2011, 2011
On day one, two hares were hit and one killed. On day two, ranger noted that four
hares had died overnight and one after coursing. Vet’s report stated that
nine hares were “unfit for coursing, one injured and one unfit after coursing.
Thurles & District, Co. Tipperary, 29/30, October, 2011
Ten hares hit over the two days, two hares killed, two injured and two died
overnight in coursing compound.
Kilflynn, Co. Kerry, October 1 & 2, 2011
Twleve hares hit by dogs, three hares killed, three died of “natural causes”, one
injured and one put down because of injuries.
Sevenhouses, Co. Kilkenny, January 14/15
Twelve hares hit by muzzled dogs, one killed, four injured and one put down because
Lixnaw, Co. Kerry, November 4/5/6, 2011
Two hares hit by greyhounds, one killed and one died of “natural causes”.
Parksgrove, North Kilkenny, December 26/27, 2011
Thirteen hares hit by muzzled dogs, two killed two put down because of injuries,
with two “escaped”.
Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, November 5/6, 2011
Seven hares hit by dogs, three injured and two put down as a result of their
injuries, plus one found dead in escape.
Abbeydorney, Co. Kerry, October 22/23, 2011
Six hares hit by greyhounds, one killed.
Limerick City, November 5/6, 2011
Ten hares struck by greyhounds, with four injured and one put down because of
injuries, one “escaped”.
Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, November 26/27, 2011
Seven hares struck by greyhounds with three injured.
Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, November 26/27, 2011
Nine hares hit, one injured, according to NPWS ranger, with vet’s report
stating that two hares were injured and two “sick or otherwise unfit” after
coursing, and ICC control steward stating that one died of natural causes,
and one injured hare released.
Westmeath United, October 15/16, 2011
Ranger described coursing as follows: “There were nine hares hit on Day one.
Of these, one hare was tossed and rolled on the ground; another hare was
tossed and mauled; another was mauled on the ground by the two dogs and
placed in a wooden box; another was hit about five times and mauled on
the ground by the dogs. When the dog owners came running in, one of them
grabbed the hare and lifted it away from the dogs by its side and then
the steward took it from him and handled it in a more appropriate
manner. The hare cried with what I presume was distress during this
incident. The steward placed this hare in the wooden box. Another hare
was tossed and badly mauled by the dogs later in the day. In all, three hit
hares were retrieved and placed in a wooden box”. The box was subsequently
taken away by the vet, who stated in his report that one died and two were
Fermoy, Co. Cork, October 19/20, 2011
Six hares hit by muzzled dogs, one injured and one put down because of
injuries, with the ranger being informed that a hare was found dead the
morning after in the escape. Vet’s report stated that five hares were
injured (four more than ranger stated) with one hare euthanised.
Ballyduff, Co. Kerry, November 18/19, 2011
Four hares hit by dogs, and one died of “natural causes”.
Ballyheighue, Co. Kerry, October 14/15/16, 2011
Ranger didn’t attend on Day one. Four hares struck over two days, with one hare
killed and one dying of “natural causes”.
Limerick Regional, Clarina, October 15/16, 2012
Fifteen hares hit by dogs, five “pinned” and ten “tipped”, five injured and two died
of injuries. Ranger stated that a post mortem was sought on the hares
that died, with his line manager requesting via a note on the form the
findings of the post mortem, stating “I presume it was internal injuries
rather than muzzles coming off?” Ranger noted “Yes – muzzles did not
Ballinaboola, New Ross, Co. Wexford, October 8/9, 2011
Fourteen hares hit by dogs, fourteen hares injured, one killed and one died from
Loughrea, Co. Galway, October 22/23, 2011
Fourteen hares hit by muzzled dogs, with three put down because of injuries. It
was noted that three hares were “unaccounted for” on release.
Glin, Co. Limerick, October 7/8/9, 2011
Ranger stated that two hares were killed.
Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, December 17/18, 2011
Four hares hit by muzzled dogs.
Mallow, Co. Cork, October 22/23, 2011
Nine hares hit by muzzled dogs, and one “escaped” from paddock.
Galway & Oranmore, Nov 10 & 11, 2011
Ten hares hit, four pinned.
Charleville, Co. Cork, Oct 29/30,2011
Five hares hit. It was stated that no vet was present, but on call, while
the ICC control steward said there was veterinary involvement. The vet
completed a veterinary report, despite not being present.
Castleisland, Co.Kerry, October 30/31, 2011
One hare hit by muzzled dogs.
Castletown-Geoghegan, Co. Westmeath, December 17/18, 2011
Six hares hit by muzzled dogs, with one “bad grazing”. Vet stated two hares
East Donegal, December 3 and 4, 2011
Ranger stated one hare hit, one injured and died from injury.