Coursing licences suspended after disease outbreak
Irish coursing licences have been suspended with immediate effect following an outbreak of a deadly disease fatal to rabbits and hares.
The public are being asked to report any suspected cases of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD), which has been confirmed in the Irish wild for the first time.
The disease was reported in Ireland from domestic rabbits in 2018, but has now been confirmed in the wild from a rabbit in Co Wicklow and another in Co Clare.
The virus has also been confirmed from a hare in Co Wexford.
The Department of Heritage has now decided to suspend the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club to capture and tag hares for the 2019/20 hare coursing season.
The ban will continue until a "clearer understanding" of the extent, spread and implications of the RHD2 virus emerges.
According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the disease is highly contagious and can be spread directly between animals and in the faeces and urine of infected animals, as well as by insects and on human clothing.
Suspected sightings can be reported by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or phoning 1890 383 000.