Latest FOI reports from Parks and Wildlife Service expose hare coursing horror
Saturday June 01, 2013 12:47 by Abolish hare coursing in Ireland
More damning evidence of hare coursing cruelty in Ireland
Shocking reports on hare coursing events just obtained under FOI (extracts reproduced below) reveal that the cruelty continued unabated throughout the entire 2012/2013 season despite assurances from Ministers Deenihan and Coveney that self regulation and “codes of conduct” under which coursing clubs operate have eliminated such cruelty.
"sport" to some...
During the debate a few weeks ago on the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, Agriculture Minister Coveney declared that a ban on hare coursing was unwarranted as the clubs could regulate their own affairs and were “passionate” about their so-called “sport”.
The reports compiled by rangers attached to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for the coursing season that began in late September 2012 and ended in mid February 2013 reveal hares were observed being struck by greyhounds, “injured”. Hares were seen “limping off”, and observed to be “sick and unfit”, “diseased”, afflicted by extreme stress, or dying as a result of their ordeal. The reports also show that hares were forced to perform in appalling weather that would have forced the cancellation of almost any other type of sporting fixture.
The reports clearly add weight to the evidence provided by video footage earlier this year (see below) of exactly the kind of scenes and incidents described in these NPWS reports.
The coursing events covered by the NPWS reports were held in Counties Carlow, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Sligo, Westmeath, and Wexford.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) has lodged a complaint with Gardai concerning a specific incident reported at a County Wexford coursing event and the Gardai have confirmed they have commenced an investigation into that incident.
At several of the events that were attended, observed and reported upon, the rangers state that adverse weather conditions very likely contributed to the suffering inflicted on the hares. The fixtures in question were at Fermoy, Listowel, Tralee, Abbeyfeale, and Gorey (details below)
Minister must act on promise
Responding to a Dail question last year, Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, whose brief encompasses the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the issuing of licenses for hare coursing, indicated he might be prepared to add a new condition to the hare coursing license requiring coursing clubs to take account of the weather and its potential impact on hare welfare.
At present, coursing clubs can use their own discretion when it comes to deciding whether to allow a fixture to proceed in even the worst climatic circumstances.
With this new compelling evidence that the weather does indeed directly affect the plight of coursed hares, we hope the Minister will now act on this issue.
Ideally we would prefer that hare coursing be banned completely, but we believe he should at least show some mercy to the unfortunate hares by forcing the cancellation of coursing events when heavy rain, show-fall, strong winds etc are forecast.
This would ease the plight of these animals that are violently snatched from the countryside by more than seventy coursing clubs each year to be used as mere bait in the contests between competing greyhounds.
A ban on coursing hares in the kind of situations referred to the NPWS reports is surely the absolute minimum that the Minister should be contemplating in the light of this latest damning evidence against this activity, especially given that hare coursing itself is a criminal offence in many other jurisdictions, including the ones nearest to us.
Here's a brief film showing what happens at these "sporting" events:
Are here are some of the report findings for the 2012/3013 season:
Co Carlow - November 9/10/11, 2012
7 hares hit by dogs, 2 killed, according to National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger.
Liscannor, Co Clare - September 29/30, 2012
According to ranger 9 hares were hit, 1 killed, 1 mauled 2 injured. Ranger noted that "one hare was found in box in back of red Isuzu pick-up near penning area as hares being penned. Isuzu with hare was then driven out of field (following my inquiry about this). It would appear that 1-2 healthy hares are being held as substitutes for injured hares."
Ennis/Clarecastle, Co Clare - December 8/9, 2012
7 hares were hit, 1 killed, 2 injured and 1 put down because of injuries, and one died from injuries, with vet noting that 4 hares were "sick or otherwise unfit" after coursing.
Fermoy, Co Cork - October 17/18, 2012
10 hares hit over two days, 3 put down because of injuries. Ranger stated that "4 hares found dead early in the morning in escape". The ranger noted that coursing park was "very wet due to heavy rain".
Vet noted that 11 hares were unfit for coursing, 7 hares injured during coursing, and 7 "sick or otherwise unfit after coursing", with 3 hares euthanised.
Charleville, Co. Cork - October 26/27/28, 2012
7 hares hit, with veterinary return noting 1 hare was injured on Day 2 and 1 hare considered "unfit" on Day 3.
Mallow, Co Cork - October 24/25, 2012
8 hares hit by greyhounds, with ranger noting that "muzzle came off one dog as it pinned hare". 2 hares were killed and 1 injured "broken leg", 2 died of injuries, plus another dead hare at release point.
Mitchelstown, Co Cork - November 3/4, 2012
7 hares hit by dogs, 2 killed and 3 put down as a result of injuries.
Millstreet, Co Cork - January 4/5, 2013
10 hares hit, 5 pinned. Ranger noted that "1 hare died shortly after/upon release (vet had inspected this animal at end of coursing, Day 1, and said it appeared fit for release)". It was also noted that 1 hare died in escape overnight and another died in escape after being coursed. No post mortems were conducted on these hares.
East Donegal - November 3/4, 2012
1 hare hit, injured and put down. The form was not signed by any ranger, and there were no details about hare releases. Significantly, the ICC control steward noted on his form "Wildlife officer gave permission for hares to stay in park", presumably to be used for another coursing meeting the following month.
East Donegal - December 8/9, 2012
3 hares hit, 2 injured and 2 died of injuries.
Kilflynn, Co. Kerry - September 28/29/30, 2012
7 hares hit by greyhounds. 2 killed, 3 "escaped" from paddock. Did ranger witness this escape?
Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry - October 12/13/14, 2012
Ranger noted that 2 hares were hit and 1 "died of natural causes".
Abbeydorney, Co. Kerry - October 20/21, 2012
Ranger noted 3 hares pinned and tipped on Day 1 and 2 hit on Day 2. Of these, two were injured and had to be put down.
Castleisland, Co. Kerry - October 28/29, 2012
6 hares hit, according to ranger, while veterinary return noted that 4 hares were considered "unfit for coursing" at the end of Day 2.
Lixnaw, Co. Kerry - November 2/3, 2012
Ranger noted 1 hare hit, 1 injured and put down.
Listowel, Co. Kerry - November 9/10/11, 2012
9 hares hit by greyhounds, 1 injured, 3 killed. Ranger noted that "due to the very heavy rain prior to coursing, the field was very wet and the going was heavy and this made it difficult for some hares to get home to the escape." Ranger also noted "1 hare missing". Meanwhile, ICC steward's report noted 12 hares pinned by greyhounds, with 1 put down and 3 dying. Vet noted that 4 hares were injured 1 put down and 3 died.
Ballyduff, Co. Kerry - November 16/17/18
2 hares were hit
Tralee, Co Kerry - December 26/27/28, 2012
10 hares hit by dogs, 2 hares dead before coursing on Day 2, 2 hares killed, 1 "died of natural causes". Ranger noted that "due to the very heavy rain over the past week, the ground at the front of the escape cut up and this made it difficult for some hares to escape." The ranger also noted: "I would like to bring to your attention that 20 hares went missing from the coursing field before coursing, without any proper explanation. I spoke with D/Garda Gary Carroll at Tralee Garda Station and he is going to investigate the matter."
Freshford, Co Kilkenny - November 1/2, 2012
2 hares hit by dogs. Vet noted 2 hares injured. In a memo dated November 8, 2012, from one NPWS official to another, it was stated that "2 hares died in captivity prior to coursing" and "one hare was born in the hare park".
Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny - December 1/2, 2012
6 hares hit, 1 killed, and 1 put down because of injuries. Ranger noted that 5 hares had escaped. Did ranger witness these escapes?
Parksgrove, Co. Kilkenny - December 22/23, 2012
7 hares hit by dogs, 5 killed, 1 injured and put down.
Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny - December 26/27, 2012
3 hares pinned (ref. ICC report). Vet stated that 3 hares were injured, 1 sick or otherwise unfit after coursing, and 1 put down.
Seven Houses, Co Kilkenny - January 12/13, 2013
2 hares hit by dogs, 1 injured and 1 died of injuries.
Newcastlewest, Co Limerick - December 7/8/9, 2012
4 hares hit by dogs.
Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick - December 29/30, 2012
According to ranger's report, 5 hares were hit. The vet's report stated that 4 hares were injured during coursing and 4 "sick or otherwise unfit" afterwards.
The ranger further noted that 7 hares died during the night and were examined by the vet who "performed field post-mortem examinations on two hares".
The vet stated: "Both animals had grossly visible signs of pneumonia with pleurisy and peritonitis, consistent with a septicaemia and overwhelming bacterial infection. Such signs are reported in hares, amongst other species, during times of stress or adverse conditions such as the severe, stormy weather experienced at that time."
He also noted that "hares were brought down at half time on day 1. I asked secretary of the club, Mr. S Curtin, if they were running the hares a second time, got no reply, but another member of the club said they would have to." This is a breach of licence conditions.
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo - January 11/12/13, 2013
16 hares hit by dogs, 1 killed, 9 injured, 2 died from injuries. Vet noted that 10 hares were injured, and 10 hares "sick or otherwise unfit after coursing".
Ranger suspected that hares were being re-coursed on Day 3, stating: "On day 3, 13/01/13, there were 72 hares available for coursing, 67 courses were run and 8 hares were run and the slipper did not release the dogs as he thought they were not suitable to be coursed. This means that 75 hares were used on day three of the coursing. In my opinion I think that a few hares were coursed twice on day 3." This is a breach of licence conditions.
Westmeath United, Raharney - October 13/14, 2012
2 hares hit by dogs. The ranger described one hit - "one hare hit was sent into a high velocity roll by the impact but managed to run back into the escape". Another hare was "hit, causing the hare to roll and flip on the ground".
New Ross, Co Wexford - October 6/7, 2012
18 hares hit, 18 injured, according to ranger. Ranger noted in a memo to his manager: "Please note the high numbers of hares hit and 'pinned' this year. Despite 10 hares being pinned and having to be lifted and boxed by stewards, 79 from 80 were released." There was no reference to these 'boxed' hares being examined by vet?
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford - November 23/24/25, 2012
On Day 1, 2 hares were hit, 2 injured and injected with anti-inflammatory by vet. On Day 2, 1 hares was pinned and 1 tossed, with 1 "poss" injury. On Day 3, 3 hares pinned, 1 "poss" injury. Vet stated that 2 hares were injured and 2 "sick or otherwise unfit" after coursing event.
Gorey, Co. Wexford - Nov 27/28, 2012
12 hares were hit by dogs, with 2 dying as a result of injuries, according to ranger, who was of the opinion that "weather was very cold and wet on the Sunday and this may have affected the hares". Vet noted that no hares were injured during coursing, despite the ranger's report of 2 hares dying of their injuries.
Murrintown, Co. Wexford - December 26/27, 2012
18 hares hit by dogs, 13 injured, 1 "declared killed". Ranger noted in a memo that at a release site, 2 hares were "in poor condition".
He further noted that at another release site, 3 hares had "injuries so serious they couldn't move and a fourth limped off", adding: "So while only one hare was declared killed, I am recording at least another 6 were in conditions ranging from very poor to almost dead, therefore a minimum of 7 were in very poor condition."
Meanwhile, the veterinary report stated that 9 hares were considered unfit for coursing. 7 hares were injured, 1 died and 17 "sick or otherwise unfit after coursing."
Protester calls for hare protection
A hare is prepared for another "fun" chase...
Protesters against Irish hare coursing outside Ireland's New York consulate