Gormley gives green light to the trapping of 7,000 hares
GREEN Environment Minister John Gormley last night controversially gave the green light for the trapping of 7,000 hares for coursing meetings.
However, he refused a licence to one coursing club, Westmeath United in Co Westmeath, for a year for breaching a previous licence.
And the minister severely curtailed the activities of two other clubs in relation to trapping hares.
The move to approve the trapping of hares for 75 coursing clubs is bound to infuriate anti-blood sports groups which reminded the minister that the Green Party pledged to end blood sports when in Government.
But the future of the country's only stag hunt, the Ward Union Hunt, is still in the balance.
The minister has written to the hunt voicing "serious concerns" about the hunting of stags.
A report carried out for the Government some years ago on the Ward Union Hunt concluded that the stag, which is transported in a cart before being chased by hounds, is "terrified" by the dogs, people and cars.
It concluded that domesticated red deer are completely unfit for prolonged chases by hounds.
The handling of the stag afterwards was described as terrifying and stressful to the animal.
And there were occasions where the stag was sometimes wounded by incidents or the dogs.
There was uproar after the the last Ward Union Hunt which resulted in a stag being chased into a primary school yard at Kildalkey, Co Meath, by a pack of dogs. This caused some distress to parents and children.
Activists claim stag hunting is in contravention of the Wildlife Act which outlawed unnecessary cruelty to domestic and wild animals.
In a statement last night, Mr Gormley said he would be issuing licences for capture and tagging of hares to the Irish Coursing Club for the coming coursing season.