Written Answers. - Coursing.

Tony Gregory

Ceist:

199 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the large number of hares killed (details supplied) at the coursing meeting in Clounanna on the 21, 22 and 23 February 1992; if his Department has investigated the reasons for the high number of kills; and if he is considering any action to prevent this happening again.

Tony Gregory

Ceist:

225 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in view of the serious disease from which many of the hares used at the National Coursing Finals in Clonmel, County Tipperary were suffering, he will outline what happened to the surviving hares; if they were released to the wild to spread further disease or if they were used at other coursing meetings, for example Clounanna where there was an even higher percentage of kills; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 225 together.

My attention has been drawn to the number of hares killed at the coursing meeting in Clounanna in February 1992.

I have obtained a report from the Irish Coursing Club on this particular meeting which indicated that the unusually high number of hares killed on the second day of the meeting could only be attributed to the unseasonable weather conditions which prevailed at the time.

The surviving hares from the National Coursing Finals in Clonmel were, in accordance with now well established practice, released back to the wild at the conclusion of the meeting. In accordance with common practice at premier meetings the hares were dosed for worms and coccidiosis before being released. The result of the post-mortem examination which identified the disease in the hares referred to in the question was not available until a few days later. None of the surviving hares were used at other coursing meetings.

My Department is in constant touch with Bord na gCon in order to ensure that the Bord and the Irish Coursing Club maintain proper supervision of coursing meetings and that the conduct of such meetings complies fully with the law. We are in particular considering with the Bord how coursing can be run in a way which avoids such incidents.