There will be no two-day coursing meeting in Doon this winter – for the first time in more than 80 years.
It has been a fixture in the calendar since the first one in 1932. Traditionally it is held at the beginning of December and is one of the biggest club events of its kind.
A statement from the Irish Coursing Club to the Limerick Leader reads: “The general purposes committee of the Irish Coursing Club held an inquiry into an incident involving members of Doon Coursing Club on October 13, 2015.
“The committee considered the matter in terms of licence conditions and decided to suspend the Doon meeting scheduled for the 2015-16 season. The committee thanked Doon for co-operating fully with the inquiry and noted they would not be appealing the findings.”
The incident the Irish Coursing Club refers to is eight members of Doon Coursing Club being prosecuted in September for illegally hunting hares in a nature reserve in County Offaly in November, 2014. No hares were found in their possession at Lough Boora Parklands. All eight men signed a letter of apology and agreed to pay €350 each to Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland.
A spokesperson for Doon Coursing Club said it was disappointing that there won’t be a meeting for the first time since 1932.
“We aim to be back bigger and better next year,” they said.
No event in 2015 will have a knock-on effect on the village’s economy as hundreds travel from near and far for the weekend of coursing.
The Irish Coursing Club says their sport is a regulated activity made up of 80 local clubs operating under their control as established per the Greyhound Industry Act 1958.
“It involves two muzzled greyhounds chasing a hare for about thirty seconds within an enclosed field which has an escape the hare has been trained to run to. Regulated coursing is supervised by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is monitored by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
“It operates on an annually renewable license which has 26 conditions attached to it.
“The netting of hares by a clubs affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club may only take place from mid-August to February 28 and the holding of a coursing meeting is only allowed to take place between September 26 and February 28 annually,” said a spokesperson.
They say that year-round conservation of the Irish hare and its habitat is the mainstay of coursing, and without it coursing simply could not exist.
“It is well known that in a study by the independent conservation research unit Quercus - Queen’s University Belfast - it was reported that hares are 18 times more abundant in areas monitored by local coursing clubs.
“Working in conjunction with local landowners is crucial, as without them there is no wildlife at all,” said the spokesperson.