THE National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is urging members of the public to report illegal hare hunting.
The NPWS is aware of increasing occurrences of the crime, particularly in the greater midlands area. The Irish hare is a unique sub species of the mountain hare and is a protected species under the Wildlife Acts 1976-2012.
This illegal practice of hunting hares usually involves people entering farmland and bogs, without permission, with one or more lurcher/greyhound/whippet type dogs.
These dogs come in many shapes and colours; however, most of them are crossed with a dog that is bred to hunt by sight, usually a greyhound crossed with a whippet.
To the general public and from a distance, they may appear as greyhounds.
The number of people involved in the group can vary, but usually groups of up to eight individuals.
The dogs are kept on leads and only released when a hare is flushed, whereupon the dogs chase and catch the hare, generally resulting in the death of the hare.
The activity mostly occurs during daylight hours but may also take place at night.
It is a serious offence under the Wildlife Acts to engage in such illegal activity. First time offenders may face fines up to €1,000 and/or up to three months in prison for each charge.
Landowner permission is required for any type of hunting. Recent cases before District Courts brought by NPWS, resulted in convictions of individuals who were found hunting hares illegally. Further cases are also pending.
NPWS would greatly appreciate information from farmers, lawful hunters and members of the public.
People are encouraged to make reports, in confidence and preferably as the activity is on-going, to 01-888 3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In the event of NPWS not being unavailable, please note that An Garda Síochána can also enforce the Wildlife Acts.