Letter to the Editor:

Dear Sir,

As another hare coursing season starts, the Irish hare is safe in Northern Ireland for one more season. This is due to the temporary protection order which is in place until March 2006. However the League is lobbying to make this protection permanent. This fragile creature should not be subject to the whims of politicians and interest groups.

The Irish hare is a much-loved indigenous species and sadly it has recently been in serious decline. The League does not claim that coursing is the sole reason for the decline (it is a complex interplay between agricultural practice, habitat destruction and illegal poaching), but it is indefensible to allow our few remaining hares to be terrorised and often killed in the name of ‘sport’.

During a hare coursing event, two greyhounds chase a hare and are marked on how quickly they can turn it. They are muzzled, but this does not always prevent the kill as supporters claim, because often the dogs beat and pummel the hare to the ground in their excitement before the stewards arrive to wring its neck. In addition, evidence indicates that the hares often die of a stress-induced illness called Capture Myopathy, and baby hares can be orphaned and die of starvation.

We now have a historic opportunity to make sure that the Irish hare is saved for future generations to enjoy. Look out for the announcement of the consultation on the wildlife order and then write to Mr David Cairns MP, letting him know what you think.

Yours sincerely,

Fionna Smyth
Northern Ireland Campaigner
League Against Cruel Sports