Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Ceisteanna (13)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

13. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if licences have been granted for the capture of hares on lands owned by Coillte. [16710/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department issued one permit in 2012 under the Wildlife Acts to Coillte to remove a maximum of tens hares from their lands in Co Carlow as they were causing damage to red oak trees.    The hares were captured by means of nets and released back into the wild onto lands in agreement with officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department.   

 This permit was granted under section 42 of the Wildlife Acts which offers a facility whereby a person can obtain a permit, on a case by case basis, to prevent serious damage caused by individual species on specific lands. Permissions are only issued where there is evidence of such damage.  Such applications are considered very carefully, are evidence based, and involve scientific input, as appropriate  The vast majority of these permits are issued for deer species.

I have no evidence to suggest that hares have been captured on Coillte lands for hare coursing meetings.  The licence that my Department issues to the Irish Coursing Club to capture hares specifies that landowner permission is required of the owner or occupier of the land in question.  I am not aware if Coillte, or any other State body for that matter, would have given permission to coursing clubs to capture hares on their lands for use at coursing meetings.

I would add that in 2014 members of a coursing club were found by officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Departmental capturing hares on Departmental lands in Boora, Co. Offaly without the Department’s permission. My Department took prosecutions against a number of club individuals and a number of them were subsequently fined in court.    

I am aware that the Deputy has raised the issue of the monitoring of coursing meetings on a number of occasions. Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Services of my Department have monitored some thirty five coursing events during the 2018/19 season which ended at the end of February.  During the previous 2017/18 season, 35 coursing events were monitored while during the 2016/17 season a total of 17 coursing events were monitored by my Department. Veterinary surgeons of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food also monitor meetings.