Clarity needed over deaths of hares at Loughrea Coursing Club meeting

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Male Irish Mountain Hare. Credit: AlanWolfe, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports (CACS) has called for clarity over the alleged deaths of hares at a Loughrea Coursing Club meeting in October.

The club has had its license to net hares for coursing suspended ‘indefinitely’ according to the Heritage Minister and an investigation is ‘ongoing’.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Paul Murphy TD, the Minister said that the action was taken against the club following its annual fixture in October at which at which a number of hares died.

The written answer revealed that Department officials were present at the event and that three hares died during the course of the first day of the meeting.

Post mortems were carried out on the hares but the results of these have not been made public.

CACS and other animal protection groups are concerned about what happened in this instance.

“Apart from our objection to coursing on animal welfare grounds, there is also a serious threat to the Irish Hare as species from the RHDV2 virus that has been present in the Irish countryside since autumn of 2019,” said CACS in a statement.

“The disease is fatal to hares and rabbits, is highly contagious, and can be spread by coursing activities, including the use of nets to capture hares and the holding of the animals in captivity for up to seven weeks prior to coursing.”

CACS is now calling for the results of the post mortems on the Loughrea hares to be made public.

They said that if it emerges that the animals had the RHDV virus, the entire coursing season should be immediately called off on conservationist and disease control grounds.