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Coursers get licence for 2005-06 season
14 September 2005

Despite appeals from Ireland and all over the world, the Environment Minister, Dick Roche, has issued another licence to the Irish Coursing Club. The licence will allow coursing clubs around the country to net thousands of hares from the wild and use them as lures for greyhounds during coursing meetings.

ICABS is very disappointed at the Minister's granting of this latest licence, particularly as the activity is now illegal in the UK and currently halted in Northern Ireland. The licence comes at a time when concerns about the status of the Irish Hare species are growing. In the last issue of Animal Voice, for example, we highlighted:

  • a Heritage Council description of the Irish Hare as a "declining species"
  • a senior UCD zoology lecturer indicating that the species may be "vulnerable to extinction"
  • the Ulster Wildlife Trust warning that coursing and hare hunting are among the threats which could prove the "final straw" for hares

Added to this was a recommendation by the Irish Hare Initiative that no further licences be issued for the capture of hares in Ireland (both jurisdictions) and an Irish Independent report which listed the Irish Hare as a threatened species. "Hunting has affected its numbers," the report stated.

But despite the concerns, and ongoing appeals from ICABS, coursing has been licensed for yet another year. Up to seven thousand hares will be removed from habitats around Ireland over the coming months. They will be kept in captivity for 6-8 weeks and trained to run up a field in preparation for the coursing meeting.

Some hares die while being captured from the wild in the coursers' nets and others succumb to disease and stress during the weeks in captivity before the start of coursing. Injuries sustained during coursing account for even more deaths - being delicate creatures, any hit from a greyhound can result in fatal internal injuries and broken bones. The ones which survive the trauma of being handled, transported and coursed and are finally released back into the wild, continue to remain vulnerable to capture myopathy - a stress-related condition which can claim victims suddenly or days and months later.

ICABS will, of course, be relaunching our anti-coursing campaign and imploring Minister Roche to make this the last ever year of coursing in Ireland.

Action Item

Please write to Minister Dick Roche to express your disappointment at the licensing of another year of hare coursing. Urge him to give a commitment that this will be the last ever year of coursing in Ireland.

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1

Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640

(Please compose your own personal letter if possible. If you do not have time to do this, please send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Dear Minister Roche,

I am writing to express my great disappointment at the news that you have granted the Irish Coursing Club yet another licence to net thousands of hares from the wild.

I think it is most unjust and undemocratic that your department disregards the views of 80 per cent of the Irish population by continuing to license this blood sport.

Yours sincerely,


The licence and its conditions

National Parks And Wildlife
Wildlife Act, 1976 (As Amended) - Section 34
Licence to Capture Live Hares

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (hereinafter referred to as "the Minister"), in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Sections 9 and 34 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (No. 39 of 1976), as adapted, hereby grants to the Irish Coursing Club, ("the Licensee"), Davis Road, Clonmel, a licence to capture alive hares by means of nets subject to the conditions specified hereunder. The authority given by the Licence shall be exercisable by the Licensee and by the Coursing Clubs listed in the schedule attached hereto.

Dated this __ day of __ September, 2005

For the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
An officer authorised in that behalf by the said Minister.


  1. The Licence shall remain in force for the period beginning on the 1st day of September 2005 and ending on the 28th day of February 2006 and maybe revoked or amended by the Minister.

  2. The Licence is issued pursuant to and in accordance with the Wildlife Act, 1976 (Approved Traps, Snares and Nets) Regulations, 2003 (S.I. No. 620 of 2003).

  3. A return giving particulars of all of the captures and the locations of the captures made on foot of this licence shall be made to the Minister, within 4 weeks of the expiry of the period of validity of the Licence or on a request made in that behalf by the Minister.

  4. A return giving particulars of the numbers and locations of the releases of hares made by the licensee and by the coursing clubs listed in the schedule attached hereto shall be made to the Minister, within 4 weeks of the expiry of the period of validity of the Licence or on a request made in that behalf by the Minister.

  5. The nets shall not be placed or operated in a place or in such a way as to endanger farm or domestic animals or other species for which they are not intended.

  6. The Licence shall be produced for inspection on a request being made in that behalf by a member of the Garda Síochana or any person appointed by the Minister under Section 72 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (as amended), to be an authorised person for the purposes of the said Act.

  7. The licensee and each of the coursing clubs listed in the schedule attached hereto shall arrange for a qualified veterinary surgeon to be in attendance during all of their coursing meetings, and that he/she shall prepare a signed report on the general health of the hares and on any injuries or deaths of hares that occur during the meeting. Each club shall ensure that the signed veterinary report in respect of its meetings are submitted to the Department within three weeks of the date on which the meeting finished.

  8. Any hare captured pursuant to the Licence may not be coursed more than once on the same day and all necessary arrangements shall be made to ensure that hares that have been coursed can be readily identified to ensure that this condition is rigidly observed.

  9. Sick, injured or pregnant hares shall not be taken under the Licence

  10. Hares that become sick or injured or that appear to be pregnant while in captivity may not be coursed.

  11. Adequate escapes must be provided while coursing hares captured pursuant to the Licence.

  12. All hares must be released into the wild immediately after a coursing meeting has concluded, unless otherwise agreed with the relevant National Parks and Wildlife staff beforehand.

  13. All hares must be released back into the wild in the same area from which they were captured, unless otherwise agreed beforehand with the relevant National Parks and Wildlife staff.

  14. The Licence does not cover the following townlands in Co. Wexford: North East Slob, North West Slob, Big Island, Beggering Island and The Raven.

  15. All National Parks and Statutory Nature Reserves within the State are excluded from the provisions of the Licence.

  16. This licence covers the capturing of hares in the Republic of Ireland. Any club capturing hares outside this jurisdiction for the purposes of hare coursing inside the jurisdiction must be able to produce the relevant licenses/ authorisation from the appropriate state authorities.

  17. The licensee and the coursing clubs listed in the schedule attached hereto shall co- operate fully with any officer of the Minister and shall comply with any request made by such an officer in the course of his/her duties.

  18. The removal from this jurisdiction of hares captured in this jurisdiction under the terms of this licence is strictly prohibited.

  19. It shall be a breach of the terms of this licence, for hares captured under its provisions to be transferred to the licensee or to a coursing club that is not one of the coursing clubs listed in the schedule attached hereto.

  20. It is an additional condition of this licence that, in all matters relating to the capture, keeping in captivity, tagging, marking, coursing and release of hares, and the muzzling of greyhounds, there shall be full compliance with the Directives, Instructions and Guidance Notes issued by the Executive Committee of the Irish Coursing Club.

Note: The Licence does not authorise any person to enter on any land without the permission of the owner or occupier of the land.

More Information

Animal Voice - June 2005
Special edition focusing entirely on the plight of the Irish Hare. Read on to find out about the growing concern for this "threatened" and "declining" species. Plus a selection of disturbing reports from hare coursing meetings.

The Impact of Enclosed Hare Coursing on Irish hares
A report by the Irish Hare Initiative (28 April 2005)

Species Action Plan
The draft version of the Species Action Plan for the Irish Hare.

National Survey of Hares
Tender Specification and additional details

Stress and Capture Myopathy in Hares
A report by the Irish Hare Initiative (28 January 2005)

Photos: Coursing Cruelty

Hares in coursing enclosure
A courser looks on as a pair of hares run along the inside of a coursing enclosure. Thousands of Irish hares are incarcerated like this by coursing clubs every year.

Hare being chased by two greyhounds
Greyhounds chase a hare during a coursing meeting. The stress of running for their lives leaves hares vulnerable to the potentially fatal capture myopathy condition. (Photo: Tomas Coppinger)

Hare hit into the ground by greyhound
A greyhound hits a hare head-first into the ground during a coursing meeting. Hares hit in this way can suffer broken bones and fatal internal injuries.

A courser holding a dead hare by its back legs
A courser holds a dead hare by its back legs. Every coursing season sees hares being killed by greyhounds.

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