A GOVERNMENT TD has clashed with the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) over the stormy issue of granting licences to net hares for the coursing season which commences next month.
Mr Niall Collins yesterday called on Environment Minister John Gormley to grant the licences as a matter of urgency.
The ICABS is urging Mr Gormley to refuse the licences.
Mr Collins said: “It stands to reason that once the licences have been granted the various coursing clubs and organisations can better plan when, where and how they will capture hares. This will help to ensure that the best possible care for the hares is provided and it will also give the various coursing clubs more certainty when it comes to planning their activities.
“Last year saw a delay in the issue of netting licences which placed many clubs in Co Limerick in a difficult situation. I do not want to see a repeat of last year’s situation. Animal welfare is of primary concern to all involved in hare coursing and this coupled with the valuable input of the Wildlife Service and Rangers has resulted in a healthy and growing hare population.”
The Limerick West TD said: “Minister Gormley confirmed to me last year that the hare population is strong and healthy. I do not agree with the narrow view taken by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports on this issue, as they don’t understand and value the traditional and cultural elements of this greyhound sector.”
Meanwhile, the ICABS yesterday called on Mr Gormley to refuse the granting of a licence to the Irish Coursing Club to net hares from the wild ‘for use as live lures before greyhounds’ at coursing meetings.
A spokesman said: “Now more than ever, there are compelling and urgent reasons to stop the hare netting. Only last May, Mr Gormley himself issued a report on the status of EU Protected Habitats & Species in Ireland, which signalled grave cause for concern about some of our native species, including the Irish hare, whose overall conservation status was rated as poor.”
The ICABS spokesman said Ireland must adhere to obligations in relation to the EU directive on the conservation of natural habitats.
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