By BRIAN MOORE
AGRICULTURE Minister Michael Creed has defended the government’s decision to lift the suspension of the licence allowing the netting of wild hares for coursing.
However, the netting of hares will only be allowed in areas unaffected by the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD2) vi-rus.
RHD2 has now been confirmed in six counties – Cork, Clare, Leitrim, Offaly, Wicklow and Wexford.
In a statement to The Southern Star, Minister Creed said that field studies will be now undertaken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in conjunction with the Irish Coursing Club.
Since the RDH2 virus was first detected in an Irish hare last August, further tests by the NPWS have confirmed the presence of RDH2 in another 10 hares. ‘These positive results were in Dublin and Wexford,’ a statement from Minister Creed said.
‘Given both the levels of RHD2 virus confirmed in the wild hare population to date and to increase the understanding of the levels of RHD2, the NPWS and DAFM are to under-take four field studies with the co-operation of the Irish Coursing Club in a number of locations. Sample populations of up to 100 wild hares will be captured and kept in pre-approved locations. The NPWS and DAFM will test the hares for RHD2 and observe them.’
‘In the context of the renewed licences for netting hares, capture will be prohibited in areas from a 25km radius of where either wild hares or wild rabbits have tested positive for RHD2.’
Minister Creed has also denied a newspaper report that he was one of a number of Fine Gael TDs who had an interest in a greyhound ‘Swift Scarlett’. The dog was at the centre of a Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) investigation.Following the investigation, a greyhound breeder was is-sued with a €250 fine for an alleged breach of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011.
‘No’ was the one word statement from the Minister’s de-partment when The Southern Star asked if Minister Creed was one of the FG TDs who is, or was, a member of the Oir syndicate that owned the greyhound, ‘Swift Scarlett’ at the centre of the investigation.