Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (624)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

624. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the monitoring reports from the National Parks and Wildlife Service which document hare hits, injuries, kills and hares having to be put down due to injuries for the 2011-2012 coursing season; if he is concerned that hares continue to be injured and killed, despite muzzling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8636/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the provisions of the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 the regulation of coursing is chiefly a matter for the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon, which is the statutory body with responsibility for the improvement and development of the greyhound industry. The ICC has a system of regulation in place to underpin the maintenance of standards in the sport.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under section 24 of the Wildlife Act 1976, has responsibility for the issue of an annual licence to the ICC and its affiliated clubs to capture live hares. These licences currently have a total of 26 conditions, including welfare aspects, attached to them.

The ICC ensures that a veterinary surgeon and a control steward are present at all coursing meetings. In addition to this, veterinary staff from my Department and rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (part of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) carry out random monitoring inspections during the coursing season to verify compliance with the licences and the rules governing animal welfare.

As a further control, a Monitoring Committee on Coursing was established during the 1993/94 coursing season and is comprised of officials from my Department and representatives from both the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the ICC to monitor developments in coursing and in that regard the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is run in a well controlled and responsible manner in the interest of animal both for hares and greyhounds alike.

A very high proportion (97.3%) of the hares captured for hare coursing were returned to the wild at the end of the 2011/2012 season.