Animal rights campaigners are claiming that the wild hare population of a small island on the eastern shores of Galway Bay could be decimated by coursing enthusiasts who snare them for events on the mainland.
The Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports (CACS) has expressed concern this week after discovering that Island Eddy, near Ballinderreen, was used as a location to snare 16 hares over the past live coursing season.
A report by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers, obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, shows that 16 were conveyed to the island following a coursing meeting last November.
Surviving hares are normally returned to where they were captured following a coursing event, leading CACS to believe that they had all been snared on the island.
The report obtained under FOI comes four years after the members of a coursing club gave an undertaking to cease capturing the wild animals on Island Eddy.
“We believe that this use of Island Eddy to promote hare coursing could damage the attraction of Galway Bay itself, renowned as it is in song and story, and feted worldwide as one of Ireland’s key tourist destinations,” said John Fitzgerald of CACS.
Mr Fitzgerald said the coursing enthusiasts visited the uninhabited island on boats in order to capture the animals for coursing events from September to February.
“Not content to allow these gentle creatures live out their short, humble, inoffensive lives in peace, the coursers have gone to the island in their boats and captured the hares with nets. The animals were then used at coursing events, where they were chased and terrorised for ‘sport’,” he said.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.