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Dozens of agitated hares trapped in Balbriggan coursing field
30 October 2015

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has filmed dozens of agitated hares running back and forth within the confines of a coursing field in Balbriggan, County Dublin.

These normally solitary creatures are trapped in an entirely unnatural environment and were seen desperately running along the boundaries of the enclosure that denies them their freedom. A member of the coursing club was further adding to their agitation by shouting at the hares and advancing towards them to drive them from one part of the enclosure to another.

Sadly, there is no escape for these unfortunate hares - they will be used as live bait for greyhounds to chase at a 2-day coursing meeting on November 21st and 22nd.

The hares ended up in this predicament thanks to a licence shamefully issued by Arts & Heritage Minister, Heather Humphreys, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The licence allows members of Balbriggan coursing club to forcefully net hares from the wild for their bloodsport. They, and the thousands of other hares captured for coursing meetings around Ireland, all experience the fear and stress of captivity, being manhandled by coursers and forced to run for their lives. Hares hit and mauled by the dogs are at risk of being killed or suffering painful, life-threatening injuries such as broken bones and dislocated hips.

Documents obtained by ICABS show that at last November's Balbriggan coursing meeting, 3 hares "required assistance" (this means they were hit and mauled by greyhounds) and 3 hares died.

The suffering of hares at Balbriggan has been well documented over the years. For example, in 2011, 9 hares were hit by greyhounds, 2 hares were injured and according to a veterinary report, 2 hares were "sick or otherwise unfit" after coursing. At the 2006 meeting, three hares died from injuries received after being struck by muzzled greyhounds.

In 2007, a hare with a bleeding leg was discovered by a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger monitoring the Balbriggan coursing meeting. A ranger also reported hearing hares "crying out" while being handled at the meeting.

The NPWS memo revealed that "at the boxing stage, it was noted that one of the hares was bleeding from its hind leg" and that after being seen by a vet, the animal was considered unsuitable for coursing. The ranger outlined that he was "shown two dead hares - including the animal that was seen by a vet the previous day". A second ranger present at the Balbriggan meeting described how one hare was chased by three greyhounds - "a third dog slipped on to the pitch and resulted in 3 dogs chasing the hare." Another hare was hit and pinned to the ground after the muzzle of a greyhound "seemed to loosen". "The dog held the hare in the air," the ranger stated. "After the intervention of 2 coursing men the hare got away and ran into the escape hatch." It is very likely that this hare sustained serious internal injuries.

Reporting on observations made at Balbriggan coursing, a ranger highlighted the stress caused to hares, saying that "the odd hare will cry out while being handled when the ear tag is being identified, causing more stress to the animal."

ICABS has brought this latest disturbing footage to the attention of Minister Heather Humphreys and we are renewing our appeal to her and the government to put in place a long overdue ban on hare coursing.


Urge Minister Heather Humphreys to show compassion for the persecuted Irish Hare and withdraw the coursing licence she issued.

Email "Stop the cruelty. Revoke the hare coursing licence" to
Tel: (01) 631 3802 or (01) 631 3800
Leave a comment on Facebook -

(If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, feel free to send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Dear Minister,

I am one of the majority who want hare coursing outlawed. I am writing to urge you to withdraw the licence you issued to the Irish Coursing Club.

In coursing, hares suffer at all stages - during the capture, during the time they are kept in captivity and during the coursing meetings where they run for their lives in front of greyhounds. Among the injuries recorded are broken legs, damaged toes and dislocated hips. Every season, hare injuries and deaths are documented.

I ask you to please act on the wishes of the majority, show compassion and permanently revoke the licence.

Yours sincerely,


Express your support for a ban on coursing. Sign and share petitions

Stop Licensing Cruel Hare Coursing

Save Irish hares from cruel coursing

Ban horrific hare coursing cruelty in Ireland

Stop sponsoring hare coursing in Ireland

Appeal to the Minister for Agriculture to remove an exemption for hare coursing from the Animal Health and Welfare Act.

Simon Coveney, TD
Minister for Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01-607 2884 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.

Urgently contact An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and ask him to back a ban on hare coursing.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion Street,
Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-6194020
Fax: 01-6764048

Contact all your local TDs now. Demand that they urgently push for a ban on hare coursing and all bloodsports. Tell them you are one of the majority who want coursing banned. Remind them that coursing is already illegal in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Urge them to respect the wishes of the majority of the electorate and back a ban.

Find out their contact details
Please also arrange a meeting with your TDs at their local clinics.

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