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LETTER: Hare's loss would be an ecological disaster

October 27th, 2019 8:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – So the government has caved in to pressure from coursing clubs to allow a resumption of the coursing season ... despite clear expert advice from scientists at the NPWS that the RHD2 virus could potentially wipe out the entire hare population.

The practice of capturing hares with nets, and holding them in captivity for weeks at a time, has already been identified as a disease-spreading risk.

The virus is highly contagious and has shown how lethal it is in other jurisdictions. In China it killed millions of domestic rabbits and in Spain it almost decimated the hare population.

Yet, it seems that the vulnerable Dail seats of some rural Fine Gael TDs are deemed more important than the very survival of our iconic Irish hare, a subspecies of the mountain hare that is unique to Ireland. Its loss would be an ecological catastrophe.

Ignorance, political self-interest, and the ‘need’ of a heartless minority to watch a harmless gentle creature running in terror from greyhounds, appear to trump warnings based on science and motivated by animal welfare and conservationist concerns.

What a pity the government didn't opt to hold firm, maintain the ban on capture of hares for coursing, and face down the backwoods elements in Fine Gael who would willingly sacrifice the jewel in the crown of our wildlife heritage to promote their grimy political careers.

John Fitzgerald,

PRO,

Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports,

Callan,

Co Kilkenny.

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