The control of live hare coursing, including the operation of individual coursing meetings and managing the use of hares for that activity, is carried out under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, which is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. My responsibility relates to the conservation status of the hare.
My Department issued the Irish Coursing Club with licences in August 2018 on behalf of its affiliated clubs to capture and tag hares for the 2018/19 coursing season which extended from the end of September 2018 to the end of February 2019. There are 29 conditions associated with the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club which have been developed and refined over the years.
Where resources allow, local National Parks and Wildlife Service Conservation Rangers from my Department attend coursing meetings, on a spot-check basis, to monitor compliance with licences issued to the ICC and its affiliated clubs. Officials of the NPWS of my Department monitored 34 coursing events during the previous 2018/19 season.
The coursing meeting mentioned by the Deputy was monitored by an official from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department. The official was present on the second day of the meeting and during the release of the hares at the end of the second day. There were a number of hares injured and examined by the veterinary surgeon during the meeting and all injured hares were considered fit by the veterinary surgeon to be released back into the wild.
A Monitoring Committee on coursing is in place, comprised of officials from my Department, the ICC and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 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 interests of both hares and greyhounds.
My Department has received an application from the Irish Coursing Club for licences to capture and tag hares for the forthcoming 2019/20 coursing season. All reports in relation to the previous season will be reviewed and all issues arising, including possible breaches of conditions, will be investigated and considered in the context of applications for licences by the Irish Coursing Club for the 2019/20 coursing season.