My Department issued the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) with licences in August 2018 on behalf of its affiliated clubs to capture and tag hares for the 2018/19 coursing season.
I have already informed the Deputy in my response to Priority Question No. 5 today that where resources allow, local NPWS conservation rangers and other staff attend coursing meetings to conduct on-the-spot checks and to monitor compliance with the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club and its affiliated clubs. For the current coursing season, my Department has concentrated its efforts on monitoring regular coursing meetings and to date has monitored some thirty two coursing events compared to a total of thirty five coursing events during the previous 2017/18 season. My Department’s monitoring reports for the 2017/18 season are all available on the NPWS website at www.npws.ie .
My Department will be appointing additional conservation rangers during 2019 and it would be my intention that more coursing meetings and trials would be monitored during the next coursing season.
My Department recently commissioned a new assessment of the status of hare’s population in Ireland. The survey work to inform this population assessment has already begun with the main survey work occurring over the 2018/19 winter period. The final report is due in mid-2019.