Hare coursing suspended in Kilkenny as killer disease threatens species
By COLIN BARTLEY
HARE coursing has been shut down in Kilkenny as the government battles with a disease that could wipe out one of Ireland’s native animal species.
Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) which is fatal to hares and rabbits has been discovered for the first time in the wild in Ireland. This has led to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht shutting down the popular sport, while they try to isolate and eradicate the disease.
The department has suspended licences for coursing clubs, as coursing meets increase the likelihood of spreading the disease.
The disease was first discovered in China in the 1980s and led to millions of wild animals dying. The symptoms including swollen eyelids, partial paralysis, and bleeding from the eyes and mouth, as well as spasms before dying within days.
The disease poses no threat to humans, but it can be spread by them. The disease can also affect other animals who may eat the diseased rabbits or hares.