Ireland bans hare coursing, and fox hunting could be next
Assembly has voted to ban hare coursing in Northern Ireland. A motion to
outlaw the use of greyhounds to chase and kill Irish hares was passed by
23 to 18 this week and has been incorporated into the Wildlife and Natural
Environment (NI) Bill. It is expected to come into force after the summer.
It follows a series
of temporary bans by successive Environment Ministers on taking hares.
Members will also be considering a Private Members Bill introduced by the
Green Party aimed at banning fox hunting. Northern Ireland is the only part
of the UK where hunting foxes with dogs remains legal.
were tabled and debated on Tuesday as the Wildlife and Natural Environment
Bill had its first reading. The Bill introduces jail sentences for persistent
wildlife criminals as well as larger fines. Added investigation and enforcement
powers have been given to the police to tackle wildlife crime. Public
bodies will now have a new duty to ‘conserve biodiversity’ so
that all work done by public bodies will need to take the effects on wildlife
into account. New
offences have been introduced for reckless damage or disturbance to protected
birds, animals and their habitats, including those in Areas of Special Scientific
already illegal to cut hedges during the breeding season but this new rule
will mean there is no need to prove that damage was intentional, just reckless.
The Bill also gives new protection to the nests of certain birds whose nests
are used year after year, including birds of prey such as red kite, barn
owl and peregrine as well as the golden eagle, osprey and white-tailed eagle.
The RSPB welcomed the new measures, but said it was disappointed that more
bird species can now be kept in captivity to be shown at competitions. It
promised to work with the Department of the Environment to make sure this
does not lead to illegal trapping of birds to supply the trade.
in all it has been a good result for nature,” RSPB conservation manager
Anne-Marie McDevitt said.
campaigned hard to ensure these changes took place, including petitioning
for stronger protection for birds of prey.”
is expected to go through its second reading in the autumn.