Animal Voice, Autumn/Winter 2005
Coursers want to breed hares in captivity
The Irish Coursing Club mooted the issue of breeding hares in captivity for coursing at a meeting last year with the National Parks & Wildlife Service.
The coursers were told by NPWS officials, however, that "any such proposal would be controversial and would require extensive research and discussion with expert authorities".
It has long been acknowledged that hares are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. The fact that the coursers now want to attempt to breed them sounds to us like a note of desperation, and is another sign of their increasing problems in sourcing wild hares.
Let us hope that the Minister and his officials in the NPWS unequivocally reject this preposterous suggestion.
Minister shoots down proposal to allow hunting in nature reserves
ICABS again heaves a sigh of relief that new attempts by the National Association of Regional Game Councils (gun clubs) to gain access to national parks and state reserves have been shot down by the Minister for the Environment.
ICABS has received confirmation from Minister Dick Roche's office as follows: "The Minister has asked me to assure you that he has no plans to change the current policy of not allowing hunting on the properties managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service of his Department."
ICABS welcomes Minister Dick Roche's decision to stand firm against the gun clubs and keep our national parks hunter-free. We are much relieved that these sanctuaries for wildlife, of which there are precious few in this country, are kept off limits to hunters in the interests of wildlife and the public at large.
Thank you to all the ICABS supporters who contacted Minister Roche on this issue.
Abbey to oblige
Holiday company responds positively to anti-bullfight appeal
Abbey Travel has indicated that, further to a letter of appeal from ICABS, it will keep bullfighting out of its 2006 brochures.
The Dublin-based company was contacted by us in July after we noticed that the blood sport was included in its Short Breaks brochure.
In the Seville section, the local bullring is presented as a city highlight. The La Maestranza venue is described as "one of Spain's most famous" and is included on the accompanying map of Seville.
In a letter to Abbey, we stated that we were particularly dismayed at the brochure content because it conflicts with our anti-bullfighting campaign
"We have an ongoing campaign aimed at encouraging Irish holidaymakers in Spain to avoid supporting bullfighting in any way," we revealed. "We urge people to boycott the bullrings and any bullfight-related activities such as tours of bull rings or bullfighting museums."
Denying that the company is actually promoting bullfighting, Abbey Travel's Managing Director, Joe Balfe responded by saying that "it may be mentioned...in our Short Breaks brochure but in our main European Holiday brochure, we have 24 pages on Spain and there is absolutely no mention of it at all."
Commenting that bullfighting is "a part of Spanish culture whether we like it or not", Mr Balfe pointed out that the La Maestranza is one of the city highlights promoted by the Seville Tourist Board.
"Despite all that," he concluded, "I don't see any great reason for us to mention bullfighting or bullrings in our future brochures so I suppose you could say that your letter has achieved its aim."
ICABS is happy that Abbey is acting to avoid giving any publicity to this gruesome blood sport.
We have thanked the Managing Director for his positive response.
Bullring to go from Slattery's itinerary
Slattery's Tours have promised to exclude a bullring visit from its 10-day excursion in Spain.
The tour of the bullring in Valencia was listed as part of the company's Spanish Wonder tour. It was brought to our attention by an ICABS supporter in Mayo.
When ICABS sent Slattery's some leaflets about the barbarity of bullfighting, they moved swiftly to assure us that the bullring would be eliminated from next year's itinerary.
"We will be omitting any reference to visiting a bull ring in Spain as we all know bullfighting is a horrendous act," Ann King of Slattery's stated. "Thank you for sending us this information; it has made us all more aware of these terrible blood sports."
A big thank you to Slattery's for this decisive announcement.
Marketing group directs visitors to bullfighting
A Spanish marketing organisation has been criticised for offering free bullfight tickets as part of a bid to attract Irish marketers to a conference.
The Federation of Electronic Commerce and Direct Marketing (FECEMD) made the offer in a statement published on the Irish Direct Marketing Association's website.
Those who registered to attend the Concentra conference in Madrid in April were promised "a complementary programme of activities" which included trips to a bullfight, a football match and a museum.
In a letter to FECEMD General Manager, Mar Moya-Angeler, ICABS expressed its disgust that visitors to Madrid were being directed to a bullring.
"It is shameful that your organisation is prepared to support this barbaric activity, particularly when a majority want it outlawed."
ICABS has also made contact with the Irish Direct Marketing Association to convey our hope that no Irish marketing representatives took up the bullfight offer. They didn't reply.
Please write to FECEMD and ask them to stop supporting animal cruelty by offering free tickets to bullfights.
Mar Moya-Angeler, Manager
Avenida Diagonal, 437 5
08036 Barcelona, Spain.
Tel: 00 34 3 240 4070
Fax: 00 34 3 240 3134
Sick of junk mail, faxes, phone calls and text messages from direct marketers? Visit www.idma.ie, click on "News" and read "The Mailing Preference Service - Your Right To Choose" for details on how to stop it.
"No Frontiers" host acts out matador kill
ICABS has lodged a complaint with RTE and Frontier Films following yet another promotion of bullfighting on their "No Frontiers" travel programme.
Broadcast in February, the programme featured a visit to a bullfighting museum in Spain where presenter Kathryn Thomas simulated the killing of a bull by thrusting a sword into a bale of straw. She went on to tell viewers that the museum was well worth a visit.
In a letter to RTE, ICABS Campaign Director, Aideen Yourell, stated: "It is very disappointing that No Frontiers chose to promote bullfighting in such a trivial fashion...it conveyed a callous indifference to the plight of countless innocent animals tortured to death in bullrings around Spain."
No Frontiers previously promoted bullfighting on their first episode back in 1999. Past presenter, Christy Kenneally, stood outside a Seville bullring and declared in upbeat fashion, "if your taste is for blood and sand, then the bullfighting takes place here every weekend."
Make Catalonia bullfight-free: plea to MPs
Anti-bullfight groups from around Europe met with members of the Catalan Parliament in April to urge them to rid the region of blood sports.
Spain's ADDA as well as the Belgian and Dutch branches of the Anti Bullfighting Committee (ABC) held discussions with all the political parties represented in the parliament.
According to Saskia Oskam of ABC the Netherlands, the end of bullfighting in Catalonia may now finally be in sight.
"We understood from the conversations with the MPs that the opposition against bullfights grows bigger and bigger in Catalonia," she said. "Most Catalans want a ban on the bullfights as soon as possible and even bullfighters say that bullfighting is declining very fast in Catalonia."
More than 450,000 people have signed a petition calling for a ban on bullfighting in Catalonia. An opinion poll carried out by Demoscopia on behalf of ADDA has found that 73.1 per cent of Catalans think the Parliament of Catalonia should outlaw bullfighting. Over 80 per cent support Barcelona City Council's decision last year to declare itself anti-bullfighting.
The parliamentarians are expected to debate the issue again later this year.
Fox is not a major pest: Farm Week
The fox is not a major pest to farmers and any claims by hunters that they control the species are untrue. That's the clear message relayed on an edition of Farm Week currently available to listen to on RTE Radio 1's website.
Speaking on the Farm Opinion portion of the programme, former RTE broadcaster, PJ Nolan, dismisses foxhunting as merely a day out and not some form of pest control.
"The notion of the fox as a major pest of the countryside is a spurious one and the idea that hunting in some way controls the population is wrong," he says on the programme which was first broadcast on March 11th last year.
Though admitting that, from childhood, he has had "a certain prejudice against foxes", Mr Nolan - now a farmer in Navan, Co Meath - expresses his disapproval of the hunters' treatment of wildlife.
"I don't particularly like the idea of a fox being torn apart by hounds if it's caught," he states. "I wouldn't be interested in hunting myself - the idea of 50 people chasing after a fox seems a little pointless to me."
However, despite this, he reveals that the Meath Hunt "has always crossed our land and will continue to do so".
But his discomfort with killing for kicks is once again emphasised. "The whole idea of killing animals is nothing new to the countryside," he says. "I have killed thousands of turkeys and chickens and put down sick cattle but I wouldn't hunt or shoot anything for the fun of it."
Very interestingly, Mr Nolan also reveals on the programme that the Meath Hunt own a 6-acre area of fox coverts in the county. It's described as a wildlife haven.
One wonders if this could be part of an effort to encourage foxes to breed locally, thereby ensuring a steady supply of quarry during hunt outings. It's a technique which other hunts have been known to use and one which further annihilates any claim that hunting has anything to do with fox control.
Hares suffer "severe hits" in County Roscommon
A Ranger who monitored the coursing meeting at Roscommon race-course last December was sceptical about the survival of some of the hares she saw hit by dogs.
"I find it difficult to believe that no hares were injured or killed, judging by some of the severe hits, we observed," the National Parks and Wildlife Service official stated in her report.
Over the two day meet, 12 hares were hit, yet the club claimed that no hares were injured or killed.
The rangers present also encountered obstruction from the coursing club when they tried to count the hares on day two, following discrepancies noted regarding the number of hares in captivity.
The club stated they had 69 hares, yet the rangers counted 73 hares which ran the course. In her report, one of the rangers stated that she had "serious concerns with regard to the actual number of hares" the club had in their possession.
When NPWS turned up at the venue to count the hares as arranged, the club secretary told them that he would prefer if the hares weren't counted.
In her report, the ranger recommended as follows: "I consider that we (NPWS) did not receive adequate co-operation from the coursing club officials of the Roscommon United Coursing Club and Galway and Oranmore Coursing Club. There are also the anomalies with regard to actual numbers of hares and injured hares. Therefore, I would recommend that NPWS consider not granting either club a licence to hold a coursing meeting next year."
Animals and the Churches
The Roman Catholic Church
The following is an extract from Animals and the Churches - the first comprehensive guide to the resolutions and statements by churches world-wide on animal protection. This and other articles by Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey can be found at: www.godandanimals.com/PAGES/edits/linzey.html.
Although various Catholic theologians and bishops have spoken positively about animals, including Cardinals Manning, Newman and, most notably, Cardinal Heenan in 1970, it is the Catholic Catechism which provides the "official" church view on animal welfare.
Although it recognises that we have a duty of "kindness" to animals (which is a welcome advance on some previous viewpoints), the Catechism endorses almost all the current uses of animals in farming, research and domestication (with the possible, un-named, use of animals for entertainment).
Even though it accepts that animals should not "suffer or die needlessly", it fails to consider whether any of the traditional uses of animals pass a proper test of moral "necessity".
Particularly disappointing is its failure to endorse the long-standing Christian opposition to cruelty as something wrong in itself, and its prejudice against giving money to animal charities.
Finally, the notion that animals should not usurp the love that humans owe only to other humans signifies a spiritually impoverished vision of our relations with other creatures. Can Christian love exclude animals? - one might respond.
For my critique, see "Why Church Teaching Perpetuates Cruelty" in Andrew Linzey, Animal Gospel: Christian Faith as If Animals Mattered (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1998, and Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2000), pp 64-72 and 56-63.
Enquiries to national Catholic hierarchies have not indicated any development of view from that of the curia, except that Roman Catholic bishops joined with Anglican bishops to defend fur trapping in 1986, and that the Catholic Education Commission of the Catholic hierarchy in Australia has laid down some welfare regulations (largely as required by law) for the use of animals in Catholic schools and institutes of higher education.
The National Conference of US Catholic Bishops has produced a statement on Environmental Justice, but it does not mention animal welfare. © Copyright Andrew Linzey.
Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey, PhD, DD, is an Anglican priest and theologian. He is one of the world's leading authorities on Christianity and animals and holds the world's first academic post in Ethics, Theology and Animal Welfare at Oxford University. He has written or edited 20 books, including "Animal Rights: A Historical Anthology" (Columbia University Press, ISBN: 0231134215) which was published earlier this year.
Farmers will not tolerate trespassing foxhunters
Foxhunters have been derided as abusive, arrogant, bad-mannered, gutter-mouthed trespassers by an anti-hunt farming group.
Writing in the farming section of the Irish Independent (23rd August 2005), Philip Lynch, Chairman of Farmers against Foxhunting and Trespass, stated that 90 per cent of farmers don't want foxhunters coming onto their land.
Referring to mounted hunters tearing up crops, leaving gaps in ditches and terrorising livestock with their "horses, hounds and hooters", Mr Lynch said that the farmer has "everything to lose by allowing his property to be used as a freebie".
"Everywhere one goes, there are charges for car parking or to use another person's property in any way," he stated. "But no one is paying the farmer for the recreational use of his land. People need to realise that his land is out of bounds to trespassers and vandals."
But foxhunters often enter land without permission, the former IFA chairman complained. "Generally, they never ask permission. If a farmer asks them to leave, or tries to prevent them from encroaching on his land, he gets bad-mannered abuse, even from so-called ladies with gutter mouths. If the farmer sends a bill to the hunters, they generally do not pay because there are solicitors and members of the judiciary riding with them. They are a law unto themselves."
"Irish farmers will no longer tolerate what happened in the past," Mr Lynch added. "It would greatly help the landowner in the present climate if the government would now, like England, Scotland and Wales, ban foxhunting."
Hunters granted tax exemption
ICABS has learned that several hunting and shooting groups are currently enjoying exemption from tax.
This sickening revelation appears on the Irish Revenue's website in a list of 1,492 sporting bodies granted tax exemption under Section 235 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.
As of August 2005, this list contains seven hunts and three gun clubs. The hunts are: Carbery Hunt, County Limerick Hunt Club, Fingal Harrier Hunt, Laois Hunt Club Limited, Shillelagh And District Hunt Club Limited, The Island Hunt Limited and United Hunt Club. The gun clubs are: Clare Gun Club, Skibbereen & District Gun Club and St Hugh's Gun Club.
In an email to ICABS, a Revenue spokesperson confirmed that all were exempt from tax. They qualified for the exemption, he said, because they are "established for and exist for the sole purpose of promoting an athletic or amateur game or sport and their entire income is applied solely for that purpose".
According to related Revenue documents, games and sports bodies may be eligible for exemption from Income Tax, Corporation Tax and Dividend Withholding Tax. Relief from Capital Gains is also available on gains made by sports bodies.
No definition is given in the Taxes Consolidation Act to clarify what constitutes games or sports. However, in a letter to the Irish Revenue, ICABS pointed to the Finance Act, 1932 which appears to define them as being "ordinarily played or contested out-of-doors by two or more persons or by two or more groups of persons and [which] do not involve the use or participation of horses, dogs, or other animals or the use of mechanically propelled vehicles".
ICABS is disgusted that among those enjoying tax exemption are groups involved in terrorising and killing Irish wildlife. We have urged the Revenue Commissioners to stop giving consideration to such applications.
Please join us in appealing to the Revenue Commissioners to disregard future applications from any group involved in killing animals for sport.
Games & Sports Exemption Section, Government Offices,
Nenagh, Co Tipperary.
Rail hunter reported to Iarnrod Eireann
A foxhunter who reportedly jumped over a level crossing barrier as a train approached has been reported to Iarnrod Eireann.
The hunter from the Galway Blazers Hunt was described in the Irish Field as being "amongst the best horseman to follow hounds".
The December 2002 article, which only recently came into our possession, boasted how nothing got in his way when he was following hounds.
It outlined how "one day at Craughwell...he jumped the double gates at the railway level crossing to keep with them and beat the oncoming train to it."
Such recklessness appears to be a clear breach of Iarnrod Eireann's Safety and Security guidelines which state that people "must always stop...when crossing gates are down". It also states that those who trespass onto railway lines could face a fine and/or six months in prison.
This is the just the latest account of the Galway Blazers on railway tracks and is the third time ICABS has contacted Iarnrod Eireann.
In February 2000, for example, we photographed mounted members of the hunt trotting along the tracks. Iarnrod Eireann's response to our submission was merely to issue a warning to the hunt.
This despite a previous statement from the company that "trespass remains a major concern...and it is the company's policy to prosecute trespassers."
ICABS has again called on the rail company to take action to keep hunters off the lines. Trespassing incidents pose danger not only to those trespassing but also to train drivers and passengers.
Ambulance and bus halted by hunters
In the past, Animal Voice has highlighted how members of the Ward Union deerhunt and their followers act as if they own the public roads in Meath and North County Dublin.
We've caught them causing huge tailbacks when they come on to busy major thoroughfares, creating road blocks while posing for photographs, jumping through hedges onto country lanes, chasing deer onto and along roads and causing general inconvenience and potential danger to motorists.
We can now add another incident to the list. While monitoring the Ward Union last season, we witnessed a Bus Eireann school bus being forced to make an unscheduled stop when it met the hunt.
The bus slowed down and had to come to a complete standstill because the road ahead was impassable. The reason? Poorly parked cars owned by hunt followers.
The narrow country lane was littered with abandoned cars as their owners hung around to catch a glimpse of the deer the hunt was chasing that day.
Some returned to move their vehicles as a hunt member acted as traffic warden. He motioned to the bus driver that in order to avoid scraping along the side of a car, she would have to move in closer to the ditch. It was a delicate operation but finally the bus edged its way past and continued on its journey.
What makes this interference with the freeflow of traffic even more appalling is that it happened at a time of the day when the bus was more than likely on an active school run - en route, perhaps, to collecting waiting children.
But even worse was to come at this scene of traffic chaos. When the bus squeezed through, it emerged that directly behind was an ambulance vehicle.
The "Patient Care Transport Service" ambulance had also been halted on its journey by the hunters. We dread to think what affect the delay had on the care of patients.
ICABS has written to Bus Eireann and the Health Service Executive and urged them to lodge a complaint to the Gardai.
Gardai pose with Ward Union Deerhunt riders
ICABS was dismayed to see two Gardai happily posing alongside representatives of the Ward Union Hunt in a photo published in The Irish Field.
The photo in the June 11th edition showed four of the hunt's riders after they had won an inter-hunt chase event. Flanking the team were the two uniformed Gardai on horseback.
Given that the Ward Union continues to be the subject of complaints to the Gardai, ICABS feels it is highly inappropriate for members of the force to be aligning themselves with the hunt.
We have brought this to the attention of the Garda Commissioner.
Hunters continue to hound landowners
Hunters have been branded arrogant, bad-mannered trespassers and now ICABS presents the evidence to prove it!
Throughout the fox and deer hunting seasons, our office receives countless calls and emails from landowners plagued by hunts. These unfortunate individuals have to contend with hunts trespassing onto their land and causing damage to boundary ditches and fences. This in addition to invasions by marauding hounds which pose a severe threat to any present livestock.
Even worse are the attempts to intimidate farmers who chose to make their land off-limits to the hunt. In our series of sample images, we show how hunts are making life a misery not just for our wildlife but for farmers up and down the country.
ICABS urges the ever growing number of anti-hunt landowners to immediately contact the Gardai if there are any incidents involving hunters or hounds. Telephone the local Gardai but also put the complaint in writing and forward a copy to the Garda Commissioner at Garda HQ, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.
More information for farmers/landowners can be found in the Farmers section of our website. Included is a "Troubled by the Hunt" leaflet which details the recommended action to take to make land off limits to hunters and how to keep it that way. Also available is a selection of "no hunting signs" to print.
Please contact us for copies to give to landowner friends and neighbours.
Stop your coursing or we'll crush your car
Successful police campaign to tackle blood sport criminals
Police in England have dealt a crushing blow to the country's remaining hare coursers.
Since the introduction of the UK-wide ban on the blood sport earlier this year, chasing hares with hounds is now strictly illegal. And to emphasise their zero-tolerance policy, a police force in Cambridgeshire is leading the way in the campaign to net coursing criminals. They have warned that anyone caught terrorising hares risks having their vehicle impounded - and destroyed!
Officers from the force recently had the opportunity to demonstrate their determination to "do everything within our power to make life very difficult" for the coursers.
A car impounded by the courts as part of "Operation Dornier" was brought to a scrap yard and crushed beyond recognition.
Photos supplied to ICABS by Cambridgeshire Constabulary show the coursers' car before and after the crushing machine went to work on it.
The arresting series of images aims to convey to coursers that when they're caught, they can expect to walk away from court with a hefty penalty.
"We want to make it clear to the people involved in illegal hare coursing that the activity will not be tolerated in Cambridgeshire," Inspector Richard Lowings stated. "Police are continually gathering intelligence against these people, by liaising with the local community and surrounding police forces to build cases against the illegal coursers."
Though the Dornier team comprises a dedicated ground force as well as a helicopter with on-board video surveillance equipment, they rely on the vigilance of local landowners and members of the public to initially expose the coursers.
"We continue to encourage members of the rural community to report all incidents of illegal hare coursing to provide us with information and intelligence to assist us in our aim of disrupting an activity that has a serious impact on rural communities," Inspector Lowings commented.
"We encourage the use of the 999 emergency number when members of the rural communities feel frightened or terrorised by hare coursers who are currently on their land or property."
Since its launch in September 2004, the anti-coursing operation has led to at least 191 people being reported for summons. In addition to the car crushing, other penalties issued included forfeiture orders on cars and dogs, driving bans (for both driver and passengers) and fines of up to £650.
ICABS has congratulated the Cambridgeshire Police on the success of their pro-hare campaign. We have forwarded details to Garda HQ in Dublin and suggested that they consider replicating the operation in rural Ireland in the future.
Hunting fund pays out €4m to date in compensation
A compensation fund formed by the National Association of Regional Game Councils has paid out nearly €4 million, ICABS has learned.
According to details supplied on the shooting organisation's website, the fund was formed in 1984 and has handled over 975 claims to date.
The claims relate to a range of incidents - from what NARGC call "minor occurrences like dogs colliding with motorcars or killing sheep" (ICABS doubts that the motorists or farmers would view them as minor) to "more serious incidents like accidental bodily injury and even fatalities".
The fund has amassed assets approaching €5.5 million, we are told, and the ceiling of indemnity it provides for each claim is €7 million. Although initially viewed with "some general scepticism", the fund is said to have now "gained wide acclaim" and is accepted as a valid provider of liability protection by, for example, the government, the Department of Defence, Coillte, ESB, IFA, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association and Bord na Mona.
In a description of the fund, a disturbing insight is given into the type of incidents shooters can cause while out with their guns.
The NARGC website states: "The scope of protection in simplistic terms protects members for third party and/or member-to-member liability arising in the course of their shooting activities while using a shotgun or rifle and pursuing any game or pest species or while involved in clay target shooting.
"In addition, members are protected if their dog causes injury or damage to persons or property, e.g. bites someone or, while on a public road without a lead (unlawful in itself), collides with a motor vehicle or perhaps knocks someone off a bicycle.
"In addition, members are protected for liability arising from poison laying activities (vermin control) or the use of a lamp at night (fox shooting)."
In an online Accident Report Form, subscribers to the fund are requested to submit details of the incident, including: how long they have been shooting, the name and age of gun involved, the distance from target and in the case of a dog attack incident, the breed, age and sex of the dog involved.
Is it any wonder that so many Irish landowners are now telling hunters of all kinds to stay off their property?
Greyhounds in pounds
A consultant to a dog pound has highlighted how greyhounds are among the most common dogs dumped.
Vet Syd Nagle told the Irish Independent in May: "I see far too many greyhounds surrendered. If they're injured or not performing well on the racetrack many owners don't want them, and they are often handed into the pound in groups of up to five dogs at the same time."
"When a hunt blocks a road, it is all to [sic] easy to annoy passing motorists, who may be under pressure of work. Other hunts take note; don't antagonise the motorists. They aren't having the fun that we are." (Brian Munn, spokesman for the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association. The comment appears on the IMFHA website a few paragraphs below a photo of a County Cork hunt blocking a road with horses and hounds)
"It can be near midday when trappers have completed the check of all snares. Thus, badgers are held captive for many hours of daylight in a state of high risk from both animals and humans. Are we any wiser for the killing? Yes, we now know for certain that slaughtering badgers on a massive scale, which has been operating in this country for more than 20 years has made little enough impact on the cattle TB levels." Bernie Barrett in Badger Watch Ireland's An Broc newsletter, Spring 2005)
"I have no doubt there will be more people from Britain seeking to course here. However it will be a matter of finding room for them as there is already a huge demand for places at present meets." (Jerry Desmond, chief executive of the Irish Coursing Club, Sunday Times, February 2005)
"There are no such things as hunting rights, only the goodwill of the farmers. If a club is split, farmers will say to sort things out and come back when things are settled, and when that happens the landowners might have become so used to not having the hunt around that they won't give permission. There might be no hunting." (Former Limerick County Hunt chairman, Tim O'Brien. The Limerick Leader of April 30th, 2005 detailed how Mr O'Brien was sacked as chairman at an acrimonious hunt EGM which saw officers being removed and several members walking out)
Winner of an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2002, Jacques Perrin's Winged Migration remains one of the most stunning records ever of nature in action.
Lovingly captured by a team of 14 cinematographers based on all seven continents, this is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in wildlife.
Now available on DVD, Winged Migration will bring you on a spectacular species-by-species journey as the film's subjects embark on their migratory journey through 40 countries.
Thanks to a dedicated team of 17 pilots (in planes, gliders, helicopters and hot air balloons!) you will ascend skyward to experience a breathtaking flight above, behind and alongside the varied cast of characters.
Largely commentary-free and with minimal use of informational subtitles, the uninterrupted feeling of being there, free among the flocks, is encouraged. Join them as they circle the poles, shelter from a downpour in the Amazon, take their first dizzying dives from a cliff and touch down for a rest on a warship. As spectacular are the scenes where the skylines of New York and Paris form the backdrops. As they swan into the city, it's hard not to feel envious at their boundless freedom.
But soaring majestically above the wingless is only part of the story. The life of a migrating bird has its downsides and these are touched upon throughout.
As well as the gruelling journey they instinctively make twice yearly (this ranges from hundreds to tens of thousands of miles), they have to contend with pollution, modern farming techniques, the trade in exotic pets and, of course, shooting.
One scene poignantly presents the awful impact shooters have on the birds. One moment, a flock are happily flying along and the next, some are seen spiralling towards the ground with the sound of gunfire accompanying their deathly descent. It's a powerful moment where viewers are left with no doubt about the enormity of this transgression against nature. The birds have flown an exhausting journey only to be stopped by bullets fired by hunters lurking in the bushes.
Shooting is an activity producer and co-director Jacques Perrin clearly disapproves of. He has the greatest of respect for the birds and you can tell that he struggles to understand this abhorrent hobby of killing for fun.
Commenting on the scene where the hunters shoot from the shadows, he points out that these particular birds had flown for 5,000 kilometres before being blasted from the sky. "Some people are waiting [with their guns] and they stop this moment. They stop the movement of life. It's difficult to accept that. It's very difficult."
Says co-director Jacques Cluzaud: "Hunters have acquired stronger means [with] a series of cartridges. Some areas are final walls for these birds. Blocking their progression. For a migratory bird to remain free, it needs two places for summer and winter. And the trip in between must be possible and hopefully doesn't end with lead in their bodies."
If Winged Migration isn't already part of your DVD collection we highly recommend flying out now to get a copy. Once you watch it, you'll never see birds in the same light again.
Young Fine Gael defend hunting
ICABS has expressed its deep disappointment to the president of Young Fine Gael after learning that the organisation is defending blood sports.
At their national conference last November, a motion was passed stating that "Young Fine Gael is committed to the preservation of the rights of foxhunters and other such rural blood sports."
In a letter to YFG President, Patrick O'Driscoll, ICABS condemned the policy, saying that it was particularly disappointing now that foxhunting and other cruel blood sports have been banned in neighbouring jurisdictions.
The pro-blood sports motion was presented to conference delegates by the organisation's Social Affairs Committee.
YFG Vice-president, Elizabeth Munnelly, confirmed to ICABS that the motion was passed and remains as an official policy.
She maintained that "much debate and discussion" had taken place on the motion and that "it was stressed that regulations in this regard must be strictly implemented and enforced."
ICABS is currently preparing a submission to Young Fine Gael in an effort to persuade them to reverse this incredible policy. Our presentation will show how animal cruelty is integral to foxhunting and that regulations will do nothing to eliminate the suffering. Only a complete ban will achieve this.
Express your disappointment to YFG about their pro-hunt policy. Suggest that they condemn those who terrorise wildlife instead of seeking to defend their "rights". Ask for this policy to be urgently scrapped.
Pa O'Driscoll, YFG President
c/o Fine Gael HQ
51 Upper Mount St, Dublin 2
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Animal Voice is published by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Tel: 044-49848. Fax: 044-49848. Email: info[AT]banbloodsports.com. Website: www.banbloodsports.com. Editorial Team: Aideen Yourell and Philip Kiernan. Layout and Design: Philip Kiernan. Contributors: Peter Akokan, Bernie Barrett, Mike Huskisson, Francis Kennedy, Philip Kiernan, Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey, Senator David Norris, Dick Power, Mike Rendle, Aideen Yourell. Please pass Animal Voice on to a friend when you are finished with it. Thank you.
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