Taken from the Irish Independent
As chief executive officer of the Irish Coursing Club (ICC), I write in response to John Fitzgerald (Letters, September 14) to set the record straight.
Here in Ireland, one pair of muzzled greyhounds at a time is slipped to pursue a hare given a 100-yard advantage. The hares are harvested ahead of time and kept in "hare parks", often several acres large, where they are well cared for, inoculated, dosed and, yes, trained to familiarise themselves with the facility.
The object of the sport is to test the skill of two dogs against each other as they endeavour to turn their quarry, the hare.
Each coursing meeting operates under veterinary supervision and the appropriate care and attention is administered to all hare stock by appropriately trained and qualified personnel.
Coursing only takes place from late September to the end of February and is not permitted during the breeding season. There are a range of other regulations in place, as well, which reinforce the sustainability of the species.
The arguments forwarded by Mr Fitzgerald and like-minded people focus on the depletion of the hare population. However, Quercus, an independent research group in Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, reports that the current hare population in the Republic of Ireland stands at over 565,000, of which less than 1pc is harvested by coursing clubs.
The most recent report on the status of EU protected habitats and species in Ireland details that the future of the hare is good.
The National Parks and Wildlife Rangers supervise coursing meetings and supervise the release of hares to the wild on conclusion of the event.
Between those facts and the reality that we rely on a healthy hare population for our sport, it is difficult to imagine how we would want to be responsible for decimating the hare population we so rely on.
Mr Fitzgerald and others paint a picture of coursing which is emotive, at times juvenile and insulting, and most of all, misleading.
They also fail to consider the consequences of an unregulated form of the sport, and this is no more obvious than in Northern Ireland where, through lack of coursing, illegal hunting is rampant, and the hare population is suffering as preserves are unmanaged.
The ICC recently held a seminar on hare husbandry matters, detailing best practice on hare management. To understand coursing, you must take account of the positive environmental, social and economic benefits associated with the sport.
D J Histon
Irish Coursing Club
CLONMEL, Co TIPPERARY
Many People.....even those involved with coursing dogs will be unaware how heavily regulated coursing is.
Before things get underway three licenses must be passed. One to net hares.....one to tag hares....Then one to run the Coursing meetings. Clubs can be called on at anytime by Wildlife wardens doing spot checks.
Then there is endless paperwork......both before during and after coursing to be filled in by Rangers , Vets , Stewards and club officials..........all to make sure of the hares welfare and saftey
hers some samples
sorry for the quality of these but it will give you idea of whats involved........theres 10 or so pages of paperwork per meeting......all involving inspection by rangers and vets. Every Hare captured must be accounted for.
Added to this most clubs do great conservation work ........Foxes are the biggest enemy of the hares survival...........one family of foxes will take out 33 hares in a year. So Coursing Club do what they can to control the fox population..........plus various other measures of habitat control.
Bambers Hawkeye at Templethouy