Beaglers told to assume end to season extensions
07 May 2008
Beaglers have been told to assume that in the future, there will be no further extensions to their hunt season. This very much welcomed development was revealed in a letter from Environment Minister, John Gormley's office. ICABS has renewed its appeal to the Minister to fully protect the Irish Hare by implementing a total ban on all forms of hunting and coursing.
In previous years, beaglers have been allowed to stretch their hare persecution into the month of March but, as reported previously, Minister Gormley this year turned down the latest application from the Irish Masters of Beagles Association.
"The Department, in granting the licence for 2007, advised the Association that for conservation reasons licenses to permit the hunting of hares with beagles beyond the general open season for the species may not, in future years be granted, as this impinged on the breeding season of the hares," the correspondence from the Minister's office outlines. "It was also stated that in planning the calendar for future years the Association should work on the assumption that all beagling events should be scheduled within the standard open season for hares which finishes at the end of February."
The Department says that its decision was reached "following discussions with the relevant regional, administrative and scientific staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service". Officials took into account the results of the recently completed National Hare Survey which makes it clear that hare numbers can fluctuate dramatically from year to year.
"Where hunting is allowed to extend into the breeding season, and this coincides with periods of low population, local extinctions can be expected," the letter concludes. "This is incompatible with Ireland's responsibilities under Irish and EU Wildlife legislation."
In March, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports welcomed the Minister's decision to refuse the month-long extension. We are delighted to learn that this ban now appears to be permanent. We are redoubling our efforts to secure total protection for the hare, one of Ireland's most fragile creatures.
Up to the end of February, hunters are free to terrorise and kill hares with packs of beagles (with no licence being required) despite the fact that hares are designated a protected species. There are 129 harrier packs, which hunt both hares and foxes, while there are 22 registered beagle packs hunting hares.
Hare hunting on foot with packs of dogs is a low profile blood sport, with enthusiasts claiming that what they do is "harmless", but hares do die horrendous deaths by being ripped apart by packs of dogs, after being terrorised and chased to exhaustion. A report on the Westmeath Beagles in Hounds magazine in 2006 revealed that having taken an "hour to shift her (the hare) out towards the rushy field at the foot of the medieval church...she succumbed to the pack," gaining the hunters their "first notch on the kennel door" for the season.
A Dublin motorist who witnessed a hare kill described the sickening scene as follows: "A hare came running down the road. I didn't realise what was happening for a moment until a pack of hounds appeared from round the corner. I got out of the car to try and do something but the hounds had caught up with the hare and totally demolished it. All that was left was a tiny piece of fur blowing in the breeze."
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling for a year-round ban on this cruel abuse of Ireland's most gentle and defenceless wild creature.
Please contact Environment Minister, John Gormley (Green Party), to thank him for his decision to refuse a hare hunting licence for March. Appeal to him to urgently work towards securing full protection for hares by banning hare hunting and hare coursing.
Minister John Gormley
Dear Minister Gormley,
I wish to thank you for refusing a licence for hare hunting during March. This commendable move will go some way towards protecting our precious and unique hare species from persecution.
Minister, as you are aware, hares continue to be cruelly abused at other times of the year by groups involved in hare coursing and hare hunting. This despite the fact that the Irish Hare is a protected species and an important part of our wildlife heritage.
Your decision to refuse the March licence is very much welcomed by the majority who want hunting and coursing banned. We all hope that this will prove to be just the first step towards affording hares the full protection they deserve.
Thank you, Minister.
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