Save Ireland’s hares from extinction!

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Ireland’s hares face possible wipe-out after confirmed outbreaks of the deadly RHD virus, which is fatal to rabbits and hares.  The cruel “sport” of hare coursing has been identified as a significant risk factor in the spread of this highly contagious disease.

This is due to practices associated with the activity: Hares are captured by coursing clubs with nets, and then subjected to weeks of unnatural confinement. The RHD virus is “density dependent”, meaning that it poses a greater risk to hares that are bunched together than it would to these same animals when they exist or move about in isolation, or small numbers, in the wild.

Coursing involves herding them- up to 80 hares at a time- into compounds or wire-enclosed fields. For the major three-day "National Coursing Meeting" in February up to 300 hares are captured at locations all over Ireland for baiting. In captivity they are denied their freedom and frequently handled by their captors. They remain in these conditions until coursing day when they are forced to run from dogs...to be mauled, tossed about, or have their bones broken. 

Because of the obvious and proven contamination risk posed by corralling large numbers of hares into captivity, the government has suspended the license issued annually to coursing clubs permitting them to capture hares.

Hare coursing itself is therefore temporarily banned in Ireland right now. This is the first time since the foundation of the Irish State in 1922 that a government has halted this horrific animal cruelty, albeit on disease control grounds.

Animal protection and conservationist groups are appealing to the government of Ireland to MAKE THE HARE CAPTURE BAN PERMANENT...to end the cruelty of hare coursing but also, as a matter of absolute urgency, to prevent the spread of this dreadful disease among the Irish hare population.

The Irish Hare is a sub-species of the Mountain Hare unique to Ireland. If the virus were to prove as lethal in Ireland as it did in China in the 1980s where it killed millions of domestic rabbits, and in Span, where it decimated part of that country’s hare population, it could push the Irish Hare to extinction.

So, please join us Irish campaigners in calling on our Government to retain the ban on capture of hares and outlaw the cruel, disease-spreading practice of hare coursing!