Two individuals were, this week, summonsed for hunting hares - an exempted wild mammal otherwise than under and in accordance with a licence, under the Wildlife Acts with lurcher-type dogs.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) brought this Wildlife Act-related case before Judge Catherine Staines in Tullamore District Court on July 15th, 2019.
The court also heard how the men interfered with the breeding and resting place of a protected wild animal; the incident occurred in Clongawny and Clonlyon Glebe in North Offaly on March 23rd, 2018.
The case was prosecuted for the Minister by William Maher, BL and the State Solicitor for Westmeath, Peter D. Jones.
Private farmland and cutaway bog
District Conservation Officer Noel Bugler outlined to the court that, following a response to public complaints, they observed a number of men with lurchers walking in formation across private farmland and cutaway Bord Na Mona bog.
This was in an area with chronic problems of illegal hare coursing with lurchers, a spokesperson for the NPWS outlined.
“This method of walking in formation with dogs ready to slip on roused hares in open fields and bogland was hunting for hares and not any other species in their experience.”
Declines in hare populations
Officers outlined to the court that the illegal hunting of hares is a huge issue for NPWS in parts of the country and can lead to declines in hare populations locally. “This is compounded by hunting during the breeding season of the hare.”
NPWS are continuing to work with An Garda Síochána on tackling the issue in problematical areas.
Judge Staines convicted the men on both summonses but reserved sentencing for a future date as the individuals were not in court.