Author Topic: Hare Coursing  (Read 1561 times)

IolarCoisCuain

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Hare Coursing
« on: February 08, 2019, 09:50:42 PM »
Denis Walsh has a very interesting and thought-provoking piece in today's Times Ireland about a huge sporting event that gets no coverage - coursing. What do people think? An ancient and thrilling rural sport which no townie can ever really understand, because townies' just don't understand the animal world, or a barbarism that still exists when it should have been swallowed by progress long ago, like the church or binary gender identity?



DENIS WALSH
february 8 2019, 12:01am, the times
Hare coursing is ignored, but at least it has not been driven underground

One of the biggest sports events of the Irish winter concluded on Tuesday. You may not have noticed. Media coverage of the National Coursing meeting at Clonmel was more or less confined to the trade papers and one national broadsheet that values its rural audience. An exception to this general shunning by the mainstream media, however, was Tuesday’s Six One news on RTÉ which carried a package from Clonmel in its sports segment. The piece touched the usual nerve about the welfare of hares but in tone it was essentially a sports report about a sports event. Take it or leave it.

It is a peculiar phenomenon. The crowds in Clonmel this week were comparable to anything that Leopardstown attracted for their big Christmas fixtures and if your curiosity had carried you through the gates of Powerstown Park you would have witnessed all the sights and sounds of a major race meeting: heaving bars, a thronged betting ring, packed stands, places to eat, a selection of hawkers selling their wares, everything from religious pictures to dog collars. All the fun of the fair.

Walk through the crowd and you would have picked up accents from all over Ireland and the UK, like turning the dial on a radio. Sir Mark Prescott, the famous English horse trainer, was in attendance for the 49th consecutive year. Everything about it appears mainstream: except the action around which all of this revolves.

How could you explain hare coursing to the uninitiated and expect a neutral response? How could you pare it back to its essentials and not make it seem barbaric? In the field the dogs look fierce and predatory and the hare seems hopelessly small and vulnerable. It is easy to understand why people would be repulsed by the spectacle, just as there are people who can’t stomach UFC or boxing or the sight of tumbling horses on Grand National day. It is raw and elemental and a matter of taste.

When coursing was debated in the Dáil nearly 26 years ago it was described as “one of the most emotive issues” to come before the house. It was a grand claim given the other affairs of this state. Moving the motion to have hare coursing banned the late Tony Gregory invoked Padraig and Willie Pearse. From the other side of the argument Brian Fitzgerald of Labour returned fire with echoes of Wolfe Tone: “The coursing fields of Ireland,” he said, “have brought Catholics, Protestant and Dissenter together.”

In that debate Alan Dukes, of Fine Gael, struck the key note. He warned the house against falling into the trap of “an anthropomorphic approach” which, he happily explained, meant “viewing the world of animals through the eyes of human persons.” If Deputy Gregory, he continued, would stroll through the woods of Kildare he would see how nature dealt with hares.

To accept coursing requires an unsentimental view of nature and the wild. Among country people you will find it; a twin capacity to love pets and yet be dispassionate about those animals that are bound up with the commerce of farming. Cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and the like are reared and minded and ultimately slaughtered. Rabbits and crows are shot for interfering with crops; foxes are shot for disturbing the hen house. The cuddly status that these animals might enjoy in children’s books or animated movies has very little in common with their day-to-day life in the countryside.

In the wild only about one in 10 hares live long enough to die of old age. Why should coursing add to their suffering, say the protesters? That question was partly addressed by a House of Commons committee report on hare coursing in the early 1990s which concluded that if animals of prey were psychologically damaged “by reason of being chased” its capacity to escape would be impaired and the “species would risk elimination by the process of natural selection.”

That argument didn’t hold water more than a decade later when the Hunting Act was carried in the House of Commons after taking up 600 hours of parliamentary time. Evidently, it had been an emotive issue in that house too. Hare coursing was outlawed in Northern Ireland in 2010, six years after it was banned in England and Wales and eight years after Scotland had taken the lead on this matter in these islands. Apart from here, Spain and Portugal are the only European countries where the practice is still legal.

Criminalising hare coursing in the UK, though, has not only driven it underground but given it a sinister character. A cursory trawl through UK regional papers reveals a handful of arrests in the last couple of months alone. The Oxford Mail reported that two men were arrested and six dogs were seized in Uffington last weekend. On the previous weekend the Biggleswade Chronicle reported a further two arrests in Great Barford.

Before Christmas the Swindon Advertiser carried a quite stunning story about hare coursing in Wiltshire where police “caught a gang and seized their dogs, phones and vehicles.” The report quoted David George from the National Farmers Union: “Hare coursing is a considerable nuisance to farmers in the county as it can cause a lot of damage to property and crops, and violence and intimidation is often involved,” he said. “Farmers can find large gangs of coursers descending on their property and keeping them out is a real problem.”

A local farmer shared his experience: “They come in the early morning or late evening when nobody is about,” he said. “They cut the fences, break the gates and drive across the farmland, causing huge damage, leaving a trail of destruction. It’s not just the cost of it but also the mess. There are not enough rural police to deal with it.”

“Farmers in the area were reluctant to identify themselves when talking about the issue,” the report continued, “for fear of retribution from what one described as hardened criminals.”

All of that stuff would be completely alien to the crowd in excess of 10,000 that descended on Clonmel for the Derby and Oaks finals. In Ireland anti-blood sports protestors have often demonstrated peacefully at coursing meetings but it was reported, strangely, that none showed up on Tuesday, the biggest day of the coursing year.

Maybe the whole thing is being managed better than in the past. Muzzling of greyhounds was introduced in Ireland in the 1990s after one chaotic meeting at Clounanna where 50 hares were killed over three days. Coursing people will explain that the kill was never the thing and that the welfare of hares is a primary concern. Why wouldn’t it be? Without hares there is no game. By all accounts none were harmed in Clonmel.

According to the Irish Coursing Club 5,044 hares were caught for coursing last season and 5,017 were released back into the wild when the season was over. If you are outraged by the very existence of this sport all you will take from those figures is that 27 hares lost their lives. On this issue there is no middle ground or room for persuasion. Take it or leave it.

oakleafgael

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2019, 09:52:23 PM »
The former for me.

screenexile

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 12:14:47 AM »
Proper fucked??

Puckoon

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2019, 08:25:39 PM »
The big rabbit gets fucked.

If you’re ok with the coursing you’re ok with the fox hunt.

oakleafgael

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2019, 11:28:34 PM »
The big rabbit gets fucked.

If you’re ok with the coursing you’re ok with the fox hunt.

The big rabbit as you call it would be completely wiped out in Ireland where it not for hare coursing.

Rossfan

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 11:58:22 PM »
???
Thankfully we don't go in for this so called sport in most of Ros or indeed Connacht.
Seems to be mainly a Munster pursuit.
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Puckoon

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2019, 12:24:24 AM »
The big rabbit gets fucked.

If you’re ok with the coursing you’re ok with the fox hunt.

The big rabbit as you call it would be completely wiped out in Ireland where it not for hare coursing.

Is this where you sell us on the conservation efforts on the back of the activity? Or what?

oakleafgael

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2019, 09:13:59 AM »
The big rabbit gets fucked.

If you’re ok with the coursing you’re ok with the fox hunt.

The big rabbit as you call it would be completely wiped out in Ireland where it not for hare coursing.

Is this where you sell us on the conservation efforts on the back of the activity? Or what?

There is no or what about it. Plenty of independent evidence to prove that to be exactly the case.

J70

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2019, 04:51:06 PM »
Such as?

(Honest question)

oakleafgael

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2019, 07:32:45 PM »
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/can-coursing-be-good-for-hares-the-strange-answer-is-yes-1.3738552?mode=amp

Link to an independent study carried out contained within the article. I appreciate that coursing isn't to everyone's taste but without it the Irish Hare would have a bleak future.

We've actually had this conversation before

J70

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2019, 08:03:54 PM »
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/can-coursing-be-good-for-hares-the-strange-answer-is-yes-1.3738552?mode=amp

Link to an independent study carried out contained within the article. I appreciate that coursing isn't to everyone's taste but without it the Irish Hare would have a bleak future.

We've actually had this conversation before

Thanks.

Not to my taste either, but then again, I wouldn't be one to enjoy any type of hunting.

However, it is undeniable that hunting is, in some cases, absolutely necessary and, in some cases, the reason that some species have managed to hang on. And personally, my concern would be much more on the conservation side of things, rather than individual animal welfare or rights.

omaghjoe

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2019, 08:27:00 PM »
This should all sides happy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MrFtrR6X8o

Apparently Barney Conway's relations arent too impressed with it tho

Itchy

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2019, 08:41:26 PM »
I understand the winning of it is the dog that gets the hare to turn. Its very rare a dog will catch a hare, they are too fast and nimble. That said I am sure the hare doesn't enjoy the event!

Anyway, I always find the animal rights crowd a curious bunch. Its only small furry animals they are interested in. What about the pain a mouse feels eating poison, or the thoughts of a fly smashed by the swatter? The Pig and the Cow in the slaughter house? There are surely bigger fish to fry (dont mention the fish) than the hare being chased in coursing.

Maiden1

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2019, 09:39:17 PM »
I understand the winning of it is the dog that gets the hare to turn. Its very rare a dog will catch a hare, they are too fast and nimble. That said I am sure the hare doesn't enjoy the event!

Anyway, I always find the animal rights crowd a curious bunch. Its only small furry animals they are interested in. What about the pain a mouse feels eating poison, or the thoughts of a fly smashed by the swatter? The Pig and the Cow in the slaughter house? There are surely bigger fish to fry (dont mention the fish) than the hare being chased in coursing.
What about the plague? what about slavery? what about the nazis? what about the person who got meningitis and his arms and legs had to be amputated?

It's not really an argument for the rights and wrongs of something that you can think of something worse.
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AZOffaly

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Re: Hare Coursing
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2019, 11:14:09 AM »
My understanding of coursing these days is that the dogs are muzzled, and 99/100 the hare gets away unscathed? I don't think there's instances of the hare being torn apart by two dogs like there used to be?

Never been at a coursing meet by they way, but I know it's still popular here in Tipp.