Ireland’s minister for heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has called on coursing clubs to release hares caught up for the forthcoming season. Coursing now starts on 1 December 2020 because of coronavirus lockdown.
Showing a misunderstanding of coursing, O’Brien says that hares are “better off in the wild rather than being held in captivity in groups in confined enclosures”.
O’Brien has responsibility for conservation. He issued licences to the Irish Coursing Club in September for clubs to net and tag hares for the 2020/2021 season, on condition that clubs obey Covid-19 rules.
Licences allow coursing clubs to catch and net hares for coursing meets in which greyhounds are all muzzled and the hares must be released afterwards. The coursing season – and the licences – runs until the end of February.
O’Brien is thought to be neither against nor in favour of coursing. In June 2016, he abstained/was not present in the vote on Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan’s bill which sought to ban coursing. The bill was defeated by 114 votes to 20.
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