Friday 19 January 2018

Irish hares need our protection

Sir -- In his excellent nature column (Sunday Independent, June 20) Joe Kennedy draws attention to the effects on hares of a stress-related condition called 'capture myopathy', a combination of fear and anxiety that can result in the animal's death. He cautions against allowing dogs to run free on Bull Island owing to the risk of killing hares by subjecting them to the trauma of being disturbed and chased.

If pet dogs running amok on the North Bull can reduce life expectancy in hares and increase the risk of cardiovascular breakdown, and the department accepts that this is the case, then how on earth can it justify permitting thousands of hares to be captured with nets, snatched from their natural environment, confined in unnatural conditions for up to eight weeks (hares are solitary creatures that lack the herd mentality), and then forced to run in terror from pairs of greyhounds in the presence of a cheering crowd?

Joe Kennedy quotes Dr Donald Broom, professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University, as saying: "When a mammal like a hare is chased by a predator like a dog, it will show physiological changes associated with extreme fear."

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