‘It would be an outrage’ if coursing is exempted from Level 5 restrictions

The Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports has appealed to the government to reject calls from TDs Michael Healy-Rae and Mattie McGrath to allow hare coursing meetings to continue.

Yesterday (Thursday, October 23), the independent TDs asked for hare coursing licences that were granted before Level 5 to be revalidated.

Also Read: Hare coursing: Licences that were issued ‘should be revalidated from today’

The Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports says it would be an “outrage if coursing were exempted from the draconian Level 5 restrictions, while many legitimate sports and hard-pressed businesses have been shut down”.

“All the hares captured recently (hundreds possibly) for the cancelled meetings should, we believe, be released back into the wild under NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] supervision,” a statement from the campaign said.

We believe that this cruel blood sport, that is a criminal offence in many jurisdictions, is being protected by its powerful political friends.

“In an appeal to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the government, we pointed out that the large number of coursers coming together was contrary to Level 3 of Ireland’s Plan for Living with Covid-19, let alone Level 5 rules.”

‘Immediate release of all hares captured’

The campaign says that “thankfully” the NPWS licence has been suspended and hare coursing will not take place for the next six weeks. It is calling for the “immediate release of all hares captured” for the cancelled fixtures, as “otherwise they will be in captivity for the next six weeks”.

“This would pose a serious risk to the animals as the deadly RHD2 (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease) virus that is fatal to hares is currently rampant in the Irish countryside.

It can spread easily in the cramped conditions in which the hares are kept. Hares are normally solitary creatures, unused to being corralled into man-made enclosures where the highly infectious RHD2 can spread.

“We believe that the government should not allow coursing to continue in the present circumstances. It’s bad enough that a license permitting the capture of hares for coursing was granted last month despite the prevalence of a disease that kills hares and can be spread by coursing itself.

“It would be reckless and unforgivable to give a free pass to coursers in the middle of the Covid-19 phoandemic. It would make make a mockery of public health guidelines.”