The Irish Council Against Blood Sports roundly condemns the decision made by Environment Minister John Gormley to grant yet another licence to capture hares from the wild for use as live lures for greyhounds in the cruel and primitive “sport” of hare coursing.

We are astounded that a “GREEN” Minister would issue such a licence, not only because of the inherent animal cruelty but also due to the fact that hares in the wild are in decline. Last year Minister Gormley himself issued a report on the Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland, which rated the conservation status of the Irish hare as “POOR” with reasons gives as loss of habitat, increased urbanisation and hunting. This decline continues, as a recent survey published in Northern Ireland shows, and in response to that decline all hare hunting across the border has been suspended for the last five years, with Edwin Poots, NI Environment Minister last week extending that protection for yet another year. (QCA note – please see an earlier report on this.)

It is absolutely incredible that while our Northern Ireland neighbours are taking measures to protect the hare population, our “GREEN” Minister is recklessly allowing the exploitation of our vulnerable hares by coursers and other assorted hare hunters. He should have acted in concert with our close neighbours to protect the hare as part of an All-Ireland plan, and placed a temporary ban as they have done.

By issuing this licence, Minister John Gormley has disregarded the issue of cruelty. Every coursing season, hares are injured and killed by greyhounds at coursing meetings and last year was no exception, as reports obtained by ICABS under FOI revealed. For example, at Enniscorthy – 7 hares were mauled by dogs, with six dying of their injuries; Ballyheighue, Co. Kerry – 6 hares hit and 4 killed; Gorey -11 hares hit, 7 injured and 5 put down because of injuries; Doon – 11 hares hit, 4 died from injuries, and so the catalogue of cruelty continues, year on year, as we approach 2010 in a so-called civilised country!