Min­is­ter ex­tends the sus­pen­sion of hare tag­ging li­cences

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

THE sus­pen­sion of li­cences is­sued to the Ir­ish Cours­ing Club to cap­ture and tag hares for the 2019/2020 hare cours­ing sea­son has been ex­tended fol­low­ing the ar­rival in Ire­land of a dis­ease fa­tal to rab­bits and hares.

Rab­bit Haem­or­rhagic dis­ease (RHD2) was found in Ir­ish do­mes­tic rab­bits in 2018 but had never been re­ported in the wild un­til Au­gust, when cases were con­firmed in Coun­ties Wick­low, Wex­ford and Clare. Since then, the dis­ease has also been recorded in Cork, Leitrim and Of­faly.

While most of the con­firmed re­ports to date have been in rab­bits, the dis­ease has also been recorded in hares. The na­tive Ir­ish hare is found nowhere else and, should this dis­ease prove as in­fec­tious and lethal as it has done else­where in Europe, the im­pact on the hare could be cat­a­strophic.

Be­cause of this, the Min­is­ter for Cul­ture, Her­itage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madi­gan, has de­cided to main­tain the sus­pen­sion of the li­cences is­sued to the Ir­ish Cours­ing Club.

The col­lect­ing of hares for cours­ing meet­ings poses a sig­nif­i­cant risk fac­tor to the spread­ing of RHD2. How­ever, the de­ci­sion to con­tinue the sus­pen­sion of li­cences will be re­viewed on an on­go­ing ba­sis.

The Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice (NPWS) is re­new­ing its re­quest to the pub­lic to re­port any sus­pected cases. The pub­lic – par­tic­u­larly landown­ers, farm­ers, vets and the hare cours­ing com­mu­nity – is be­ing asked to be on high alert and to re­port any sus­pected sight­ings of dis­eased rab­bits and hares as soon as pos­si­ble to help ef­forts to mon­i­tor and con­trol the dis­ease.

The virus is ex­tremely re­sis­tant, re­main­ing vi­able for up to two months in the en­vi­ron­ment. It can be passed on by di­rect con­tact, but also in fae­ces and urine. In­fected car­casses can har­bour in­fec­tive virus for sev­eral months. The virus can also be trans­ported on soil, shoes and cloth­ing as well as by in­sects. It can be killed, how­ever, us­ing suit­able dis­in­fec­tants (e.g. Virkon).

Biose­cu­rity mea­sures have been put in place at NPWS and OPW sites where the dis­ease has been con­firmed and NPWS Con­ser­va­tion Rangers con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion na­tion­ally.

Rab­bit Haem­or­rhagic dis­ease presents ab­so­lutely no threat to hu­man health and it is en­tirely safe to han­dle in­fected or re­cently dead rab­bits or hares pro­vided nor­mal hy­giene is fol­lowed.

To re­port a sus­pected case of RHD2, con­tact the NPWS on 1890 383 000) or na­ture.con­ser­va­[email protected]

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