Coursing club fined for illegally hunting hares
13 June 2007
A midlands coursing club has been fined 300 Euro for hunting hares without a licence and the club's chairman found guilty of the same offence. Westmeath United Coursing Club was reported to the National Parks and Wildlife Service by ICABS after a caller to our offices alerted us to the presence of hares on the club's grounds.
A licence granted to the Irish Coursing Club by Environment Minister, Dick Roche, allowed the Raharney-based coursers to snatch hares from the wild after September 1st. The hares in question were found at the end of August when Wildlife Service officers inspected the club's premises.
Brendan Farrelly, the club's chairman, admitted that the hares had been caught outside the licence period. Quoted in the local media, he claimed that "it was simply over-enthusiasm on the part of some members." Mr Farrelly resigned his position as chairman of the general purposes sub-committee of the Irish Coursing Club, but maintained that this was unconnected to his own club's licence breach.
Sadly, despite appeals by ICABS to Minister Dick Roche, the coursing club was allowed to resume capturing hares in September. Their meeting went ahead as planned in October.
ICABS congratulates the NPWS for this successful prosecution. We will continue to press the Minister for the Environment to stop issuing a licence to coursing clubs to snatch hares from the wild to be used as a lures for greyhounds.
For more details about the convictions, please read the Irish Independent report below.
Farmer guilty of hunting hares without a licence as coursing club is fined €300
A farmer and chairman of a well-known hare-coursing club has been found guilty of trapping endangered hares without a licence.
Brendan Farrelly, who holds hare coursing meetings on his land, was found guilty yesterday of hunting 18 hares without a Department of Environment licence.
Farrelly's club, the Westmeath United Coursing Club, was convicted and fined for the same offence at Killucan District Court, Co Westmeath.
Farrelly (58) and the coursing club were acquitted of a separate charge of injuring a young hare that was captured without a licence.
The court heard how rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) called to Farrelly's farm on August 31, 2006, and found two compounds containing a number of hares.
Ranger John Mathews told Judge John Neilan that one of the hares was in such a poor state that it was unable to move and had to be removed and destroyed by a vet.
The court heard how the Westmeath club's licence to hunt wild hares was not due to come into effect until the following day, September 1.
When questioned by rangers at his home at Riverdale, Raharney, Co Westmeath, Farrelly said he did not have a licence and insisted that the hares had only been caught the previous day.
Wildlife ranger Triana Finnen told Judge Neilan that in her experience the hares at Mr Farrelly's farm appeared to have been in the pen longer than one day and that it was unlikely that such an amount of hares could have been trapped in a single day.
Defending counsel for Farrelly and for the coursing club, Stephen Byrne, said there was not sufficient evidence to show that either of his clients had caused injury to the hare.
Judge Neilan dismissed the second charge against both defendants but upheld the charges of hunting without a licence under the Wildlife Act of 1976.
He fined the Westmeath United Coursing Club €300 and ordered them to pay €175 expenses to the NPWS.
Farrelly was found guilty of the offence of hunting hares without a licence but the judge took the offence into consideration, having fined the club.