Saturday 21 October 2017

Stag-hunt group proposes new way around ban

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

THE country's only stag hunt has proposed a radical solution to get around the Government's hunting ban.

A stag will be allowed to roam the countryside for up to four hours, and only when it is captured and removed to a place of safety will the hounds be released to follow its scent.

And the Meath-based Ward Union Hunt said yesterday that satellite tracking would be used as part of its plans to resume hunting next month.

The move comes as members attempt to continue their 150-year old tradition after stag hunting was banned by the Government in the summer.

Last year, the hunt had the High Court overturn a licence issued by Environment Minister John Gormley where he imposed a condition that the hounds could not be released until the stag had been recaptured by the huntsman.

Satellite

At the time the Ward Union Hunt claimed the situation was unworkable -- but has since changed its mind.

A spokesman said a number of options were being considered by the group which wanted to "follow the scent of a deer, but within the law".

It proposes releasing a stag up to four hours before the hunt begins, and allowing the animal to roam the countryside -- all the time being tracked by satellite -- before it is captured and transported away. Once in a place of safety, at least 3kms away, the hunt could begin.

"The deer could be followed on foot, by hunt personnel, and recaptured and brought to sanctuary. When that is signalled to the huntsman, the hunt could follow the scent," a spokesman said.

"The intention would be that the deer would be released about 8.30am and the hunt would start at noon."

A Department of the Environment spokesman said it had discussed the alternative proposals with the Ward Union Hunt. "Once they're within the letter of the law they can do what they want."

But he added: "Hunting with packs of dogs is illegal. They cannot hunt with packs of dog, full stop."

Last June the Dail passed the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010, which banned the hunting of deer with a pack of hounds, by just three votes. The maximum fine for breaking the law is €100,000.

Irish Independent

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