Group calls for ban on hare coursing
The League Against Cruel Sports has called for a total ban on hare coursing following reports of a decline in Ulster populations.
The campaigners insist it is vital that a permanent protection order be placed on the Irish hare after the Quercus Northern Irish Hare Survey 2006 showed it had declined in 2005/6 for the second year in a row.
However, Quercus at Queen's University Belfast, which published the findings, said the decline was not statistically significant and represented little cause for concern.
The group said that while there is evidence of historical declines in hares in Ulster, populations fluctuate naturally and more research needs to be done to determine whether there is an upward or downward trend at present.
The League Against Cruel Sports said last year's survey showed a dramatic 40% decrease in hare numbers and the latest survey shows another small decline.
Campaigner Fionna Smyth said: "The League and its supporters are pleased that a temporary protection order is in place until April 2006, but are concerned that a more permanent solution is needed to ensure that this native species is protected for future generations to enjoy. It would be indefensible to allow Irish hares to be recklessly treated and sometimes killed for human entertainment, given the decline. The League Against Cruel Sports will continue to campaign for an outright ban on this barbaric sport."