Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore this week introduced her Protection of Hares Bill 2023 which, if supported, could result in an effective ban on hare coursing in Ireland.
Deputy Whitmore, who is the Social Democrats Party spokesperson on climate and biodiversity, said:
“Given the scale of the biodiversity crisis we are facing – and the unprecedented loss of animal species and plants – the first role of any Government should be to protect the native wildlife that we have.
“hopefully for our beautiful, supposedly protected native mammal, it won’t be a case of “hare today, gone tomorrow” – Kilcoole Tidy Towns
“Hares are very important from both an environmental and cultural perspective in Ireland. Significantly, their importance is recognised in primary legislation by defining them as a protected species under the Wildlife Act 1976.
“Bizarrely, in the same piece of legislation that is supposed to protect hares, the Minister for Agriculture is permitted to issue licences for their capture for the purpose of live coursing. This makes no sense whatsoever. A protected species should be just that – protected.
Local group, Kilcoole Tidy Towns took to social media in support of the new bill.
‘Tidy Towns would like to thank Jennifer Whitmore for tabling a bill to stop the capture of live hares for the purpose of hare coursing. Although a protected species, over 6,ooo alone were captured under license last year alone to satisfy the whims of a dwindling crew of greyhound blood sports enthusiasts.’
“77% of the public want to see this practiced banned, including many people here in Wicklow who have raised this issue with me time and time again.
“Given that we are currently marking Biodiversity Week, I felt it was the right time to introduce this piece of legislation. The purpose of my Bill is to remove the ability of the Minister to issue licences for live hare coursing.
“If supported in the Dáil, it would effectively end this archaic and inherently cruel practice, which has no place in the modern Ireland of 2023.
“It is shocking to think that 6,000 hares are captured from the wild each year under Government licence and can then be held in captivity for up to eight weeks. Coursing pits animal against animal and causes great distress – and sometimes injury or death – to the hares involved.
“I am calling on TDs from all parties and none to support my Bill, including the TDs in Wicklow. Bringing an end to hare coursing would be a huge step forward for both animal welfare and biodiversity in Ireland.”