The Deputy is already aware from my previous response earlier that 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.
In August last year, my Department issued licences under the Wildlife Acts to the Irish Coursing Club, covering some 87 affiliated coursing clubs, to capture and tag hares for use at regulated hare coursing meetings for the 2017/18 season, which extends from the end of September 2017 to the end of February 2018. Those licences contained a total of 22 conditions which have been developed and refined over the years. Subsequently, in October last year, my Department augmented the licencing conditions to provide for more strict regulation of coursing trials. Some of the licencing conditions included in the licences require that reports on coursing meetings held are submitted to my Department, for example in relation to the capture of hares.
Veterinary staff from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine carry out inspections during the coursing season to monitor compliance with the rules governing animal welfare relating to greyhounds and hares. The Irish Coursing Club also attends local coursing meetings. In addition, 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.
I have earlier informed the House that some twenty six coursing events were monitored by officials of my Department during the current 2017/18 season including trials compared to a total of seventeen meetings monitored during the previous 2016/17 season. I will reiterate my desire to increase the number of coursing events that are monitored by officials of my Department.
All reports received from the Irish Coursing Club including veterinary reports and reports of meetings monitored by staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department will be published on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service www.npws.ie
As I understand that hares are neither captured nor released by coursing clubs which run Open Coursing meeting, such forms and reports are not provided to my Department.