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Vulnerable species need protection

In criticising Minister John Gormley's recent decision to restrict the hare hunting season, Fine Gael's agriculture spokesperson, Michael Creed, displays a lamentable disregard for one of our most vulnerable species.

Concern for the future of this delicate and much-loved creature is currently at a peak. Published last month, the Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland Report stresses that the overall conservation status of the Irish hare is 'poor' and confirms that 'factors likely to reduce hare numbers include hunting'.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is also sounding alarms, warning that 'the Irish hare is found in every county but numbers have decreased in recent years.'

While Minister Gormley's move is welcome as a step in the right direction, it is clearly not nearly enough. What the hare urgently needs at this pivotal point in its survival struggle is a complete ban on all forms of persecution.

Beagling represents a major threat to the species, with hares being disturbed from their habitats and chased to their doom by packs of dogs.

'The hounds caught up with the hare and totally demolished it' is how one distraught eye-witness described the hunting's finale. 'All that was left was a tiny piece of fur blowing in the breeze.'