Captive Hares Released as Cruel Hare Coursing Paused
As a six-week lockdown is in force in Ireland, the Irish Coursing Club has been ordered to halt its hare-coursing season and release the hares it captured in the countryside in order to force them to race for their lives on the coursing field.
This is good news for these gentle animals who would otherwise have been forced to partake in the bloody spectacle known as hare coursing.
What Is Hare Coursing?
Hare coursing is a cruel, violent display in which hares and dogs are put through misery for human entertainment.
For the blood sport, hares are caught in the Irish countryside with nets and boxes, then tattooed, spray-painted, or microchipped so that they can be identified. Once they’ve been marked, they’re transported to a hare-coursing club for “training”.
When they’re not being trained to run in a straight line through a field, they’re kept crammed together in a netted enclosure. Eventually, it’ll be their turn to be coursed at a meet: each hare is pursued by a pair of dogs, who compete with each other to catch and possibly kill the terrified animal.
The fear and stress of being chased can cause heart failure and sudden death, and hares who are struck or caught may die later from their injuries. Even though the dogs must be muzzled, they’re still able to pin the hares to the ground, strike them, and toss them into the air, breaking their delicate bones, rupturing organs, and causing internal bleeding. And if the hares do make it to the end of the field and into an escape hatch, their ordeal doesn’t end there – they’re boxed up to be taken to the next event.
Hare coursing is still legal in Ireland. Seventy-eight coursing clubs operate in the country, and each meet takes place over two days, with 72 races per day, during which gamblers bet on which dog will be the first to catch the hare.
Every year, up to 6,000 hares are caught and made to compete and risk death on the coursing field. Because hares start giving birth to their babies, called leverets, in February and the season runs from October to late February, nursing mothers may be captured for coursing, leaving entire litters to starve. As hares are caught indiscriminately, pregnant females may also be taken.
Dogs Forced to Compete
It’s not just the hares who suffer. The greyhounds and lurchers bred for coursing also endure a miserable life at the hands of humans who treat them like money-making machines rather than cherished family members. When they become injured or aren’t fast enough to “win”, many are simply abandoned or killed.
This Needs to End
While it’s great news that no coursing meetings will take place while lockdown restrictions are in place, that does nothing to offer long-term relief for the animals exploited for the blood sport. If coursing is allowed to resume, many more terrified hares will be taken from their homes and forced to race for their lives.
Hares deserve to live in peace in nature – they’re not ours to abuse and kill in the name of entertainment. We’re demanding that Taoiseach Micheál Martin (the Irish prime minister) ban hare coursing altogether. Join the call for a ban today: