The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to work together on issues where wildlife offences and animal welfare offences overlap.
This MoU will allow the two organisations to tackle the growing problems of illegal hare coursing, badger baiting and any other wildlife crime where animal welfare offences may also have been committed. While NPWS officers enforce wildlife legislation (e.g. Wildlife Act 1976), ISPCA Inspectors are authorised officers under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. This gives them statutory powers to enter land to inspect animals and seize animals and other evidence if an offence has been committed.
Although regulated hare coursing is exempted from the AHWA, illegal hare coursing is not. This means that as well as offences under the Wildlife Act, offences relating to cruelty to the dogs and the hares can also be investigated and will result in a greater number of charges and potentially higher penalties. Under the Wildlife Acts, a fine of up to €5000 and/or imprisonment for not more than six months can be imposed. Under the AHWA fines of up to €250,000 and / or a prison sentence up to five years can be imposed.
ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly said: “The ISPCA cares for all animals including wild animals. This is a real opportunity to work closely with the NPWS and An Garda Siochana to tackle the scourge of wildlife crime, particularly when there is animal cruelty involved as in illegal hare coursing and badger baiting, whether it relates to the dogs or the wild animals. We hope to see those convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs or wild animals being banned from keeping animals for life.”
Mr Trevor Donnelly, Principal Officer with responsibility for NPWS Regional Operations at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs said: “The National Parks and Wildlife Service welcomes this MoU which provides for closer co-operation between the organisations with a view to tackling wildlife crime wherever it occurs.”
Members of the public that have concerns about the welfare of any animal can report it to the ISPCA in confidence via our National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515 or report online here http://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_complaint. Visit http://www.ispca.ie for more information.
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