Hare coursing is administered by the Irish Coursing Club, a body set up under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, which is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Under the terms of the Wildlife Acts licences are required by the Irish Coursing Club on behalf of their affiliated clubs to facilitate the tagging and the capture of hares. Such licences are issued on an annual basis by my Department. Coursing meetings can only take place during the Open Season, between 26 September and 28 February of the following year.
Regional staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department attend coursing meetings, as resources allow, to monitor compliance with the conditions of the licences. These staff have a wide variety of functions relating to management of National Parks, the conservation of habitats, the protection of protected species and the enforcement of legislation under National laws and EU Regulations. Notwithstanding current staffing constraints, my Department will continue to monitor coursing meetings on an ongoing basis, as well as collating the monitoring reports.
Reports from staff are generally available for consideration within good time of the subsequent coursing season and delays have not been a problem in my Department's consideration of licensing. In these circumstances, I do not see a need to introduce specific time limits at this stage.