Hare Coursing under spot light after recent worrying incidents.

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Animal Welfare, Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dáil Issues, Oral Questions, Parliamentary Questions

Clare recently asked the Minister a number of questions relating to incidents at hare coursing clubs which present significant evidence that regulations are not good enough and muzzled dogs continue to cause huge harm to a protected species.

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the recruitment of additional conservation rangers to monitor animal welfare issues at hare coursing events is likely to take effect in view of the fact that the new season is underway.

– Clare Daly.

 

R E P L Y

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. Michael Ring, T.D.):

I am advised that a recruitment campaign for Conservation Rangers was advertised by the Public Appointments Service on 11th November 2016, on www.publicjobs.ie, and is open for applications until 1st December.  It is anticipated that the first tranche of appointments – up to 6 in total – will be made from the newly formed panel during the first quarter of 2017.  The successful candidates from this competition will be deployed throughout the country and will undertake the full range of duties associated with the role of Conservation Ranger.  Further appointments will be made from the panel as required, subject to the required pay and other resources being in place.  The panel will remain in existence until the end of February 2019.  The competition is open to all members of the public.

As the hare coursing season for 2016/17 extends from the end of September 2016 to the end of February 2017, the first tranche of additional Conservation Rangers may not be in situ by the end of the hare coursing season.  However, I am confident that the 64 Conservation Rangers currently employed by my Department will be sufficient to meet the requirements arising in this area for the current season.

Issues relating to animal welfare are the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if she will confirm the presence of NPWS officers at the hare coursing meeting in Ardpatrick, County Limerick on 19 November 2016; and if they took any action after the severe mauling of a hare at that event.

– Clare Daly

 

R E P L Y

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Ms. Heather Humphreys, T.D.):

This meeting was not attended by officials from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department. Owing to the restriction in staff recruitment and deployment in recent years, my Department is not in a position to provide 100% attendance at coursing meetings. We endeavour, however, to attend as many meetings as possible having regard to the calls on our staffing complement.

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when she will publish the report, ordered by her, into the mauling of a hare at a coursing event in Ballinagar, County Offaly, on 29 October 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Clare Daly.

R E P L Y

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Ms. Heather Humphreys, T.D.):

Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department attended the Ballinagar coursing meeting and are examining the video footage provided in relation to the meeting.   This may result in discussions with the local coursing club and the Irish Coursing Club.  I will be happy to make relevant reports available following the completion of this process.

In August this year, my Department issued licences under the Wildlife Acts to the Irish Coursing Club, covering its affiliated coursing clubs, to capture and tag hares for use at regulated hare coursing meetings for the 2016/17 coursing season, which extends from the end of September 2016 to the end of February 2017.

There are a total of 26 conditions which are associated with the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club.  These conditions which have been developed and refined over a number of years cover a wide range of issues including prohibition on coursing hares more than once a day or coursing sick or injured hares, the need for adequate escapes for hares during coursing and releasing hares in daylight hours after meetings.