Animal Voice - August 2006
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
In This Issue:
01. ICABS benefit gig - great music and a great cause
ICABS is delighted to announce that a campaign benefit gig will take place on Saturday, August 26th at The Stables venue (behind The Yukon) on Dominick Street, Mullingar. Please join us on the night for an exciting line-up featuring Waiting to Explode, Innate and The Young Turks.
Kicking off the night at around 9pm will be two-piece group, The Young Turks. They will be followed on stage by popular Mullingar rock band, Innate. One of the longest running local acts, Innate's set will include some gems from their recently released debut album, Sweetmess.
Headlining the event will be Waiting to Explode, fresh from entertaining the crowds at a Welsh music festival. Renowned for their on-stage energy and lively fusion of funk and rock, the foursome are always an absolute crowd pleaser. Waiting to Explode enjoyed success during the summer with their latest EP and have just returned from London where they've wrapped up their debut album. This will be a great opportunity to see the band before they launch this anticipated release in the coming weeks.
ICABS is grateful to all three bands for coming together for this special event. We are also indebted to music student, Tanya O'Callaghan, for organising the night. A long-time supporter of the campaign against blood sports in Ireland, Tanya has several animal welfare fund-raisers to her credit. Her previous event in April, a night in aid of Westmeath Friends of Animals, was a resounding success.
Please come along on the 26th for an enjoyable night out and a chance to show your support for the ICABS campaign. Doors: 9pm. Admission: 7 Euro. Thank you very much.
The Stables, Mullingar
Tel: +353 44 93 40251
The latest edition of Ryanair's in-flight magazine is recommending a visit to Pamplona's cruel bullrun as a holiday idea. The magazine's front cover is filled with a photo of people taunting bulls alongside a headline which says "Wild at heart - Come to Pamplona and run with the bulls!"
Inside, an article declares that "if you are lucky, you can watch the Running of the Bulls every day from July 7-14 from the balcony of 'La Perla' hotel like Hemingway did."
It goes on to give tips to those planning to take part in the run. An experienced bullrun participant quoted in the article advises people who fall to "stay down and lie very still so as not to attract their attention".
Although the feature acknowledges the danger to participants ("countless people have been injured during the run, with thirteen runners reported to have been killed") and a higher "fatality rate" for the bulls, the predominant impression is that the bullrun is being celebrated.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has written a letter of complaint to Ryanair Magazine editor, Heinz Gerhardt, reminding him that earlier this year, we were assured that no further cruelty-related articles would appear in the magazine.
"Not only is this Pamplona coverage objectionable from the point of view of the animal cruelty (the bulls are taunted, hit with sticks, subjected to electric shock prods, may suffer injuries including broken bones and are destined to be killed at the end of the day in a bullring)," we wrote, "but also, the Pamplona bullrun is dangerous for the human participants, the Ryanair Magazine readers who may have been encouraged to attend."
We highlighted that during 2006 Pamplona festival last month, an American man was left paralysed after being hit by a cow.
Elsewhere in the Ryanair Magazine, bullfighting is mentioned in a section dealing with Jerez, Spain. In March of this year, ICABS complained about similar content in a previous edition. We argued that the presence of three bullfight references in the article could be viewed as a recommendation to visit a bullfight. It puts it into readers' minds that when they reach Jerez, one of the options is to go visit a bullring, we stated.
"We find the suggestion that visitors to Jerez should attend a bullfight where animals are brutally injured and killed to be wholly inappropriate. Many tourists who attend bullfights come away feeling disgusted and upset at seeing animals being abused," we added.
Please join us in our call to Ryanair Magazine to stop publicising animal cruelty events.
Mr Michael O'Leary
Tel: 00 353 1 812 1212
An Irish tourism body publicising hunting has been reminded that blood sports result in horrendous animal suffering. East Coast and Midlands Tourism has been asked to stop including hunting in its promotional material.
The following are the references to hunting which appear in "Equestrian Holidays", a booklet published by East Coast and Midlands Tourism...
* Page 9 (Riding Centre)
* Page 10 (Pony and Country Club)
* Page 14 (International Equestrian Centre)
* Page 15 (Equestrian Centre & Stables)
* Page 18 (Trail Ride)
As part of our appeal, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has sent them four scenes of animal suffering and urged them to consider the reality of hunting and stop publicising it.
UPDATE: For an update on this story, please see:
In the Autumn-Winter 2005 edition of our Animal Voice newsletter, we praised Failte Ireland for removing numerous references to hunting from their ireland.ie website - 29 were taken off but two remained. We are pleased to report that, following a recent search of the site, we can confirm that all hunt details have now been deleted.
This is in line with the tourist board's policy of not promoting hunting in Ireland.
Thank you to everybody who contacted Failte Ireland to ask them to completely exclude hunt information from their website.
Let the hare sit and don't hunt him
The timid hares throw daylight fears away when the birds are gone to bed and cows are still, wrote the poet John Clare. They dance and play and "lick the dewfall from the barley's head".
Seamus Heaney says the man the hare has met will never be the better of it until he blesses him with his elbow and praises him with devotion. However, there may be an ulterior motive here, as the ultimate objective is to find the poor hare "in either onion broth or bread". But that's not Famous Seamus personally, of course, as he is translating from the Middle English.
William Blake, in his magnificent litany Auguries of Innocence ("to see the world in a grain of sand" etc), sharply warns "each outcry of the hunted hare/ A fibre from the brain does tear". William Cowper greatly mourned the death of a pet hare he had hand-fed for eight years, while Robert Burns went apoplectic on "seeing a wounded hare limp by me which a fellow had just shot at" - "Inhuman man! Curse on thy barb'rous art/ And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye."
Browsing almost any poetry anthology will reveal that this much-abused, terrorised and harmless animal has inspired the writing of verse for hundreds of years. I recall a poet, writing in a notebook on the steps of a summer cottage, being startled as a hare leaped over his outstretched legs! The Irish mountain hare (lepus timidus hibernicus) is a declining species vulnerable to extinction - a daunting prospect for a living link with Ice Age fauna of 10,000 years ago - yet it is still openly hunted and coursed in the Republic despite campaigns by conservation and animal welfare groups. Coursing events are celebrated festivals and, as well, up to 20 hunting groups pursue the animals with dogs. Even the National Parks and Wildlife Service gave a special licence to beaglers to chase and kill hares during March. (In the North, hunting is prohibited.)
"Let the hare sit" is an old exhortation to leave well enough alone. Mike Rendle of the Irish Hare Initiative has pointed out in the Belfast Telegraph that a hare sits up in the wild to signal to a would-be predator such as a fox that his element of surprise has been lost. The wise fox does not pursue a hare that will outrun it.
But trained dogs, such as greyhounds, are not natural predators of hares, and when a hare sits up in a coursing paddock it does not expect to be hunted. It is not natural behaviour for a hare to run in a blind panic in an enclosed paddock. Neither is it normal to enclose them in pens prior to coursing events. Such confinement can contribute to a fatal condition called stress myopathy - in a recorded case almost 50 per cent of animals caught for a coursing event died in captivity.
It is easy to condemn coursing and open hunting as being significantly responsible for the decline of the mountain hare. But there are other factors. Most farmers will report an absence of hares in areas where they once thrived. Even in places managed by coursing clubs, numbers are in decline - although hunting pregnant and nursing females included in the round-up doesn't help.
The fragmented population is susceptible to local extinction because of changed agricultural practices such as huge monocultural tracts of grass and cereals. Removal of hedges has worked against the hare and the expanses of growth are useless to them once a certain height (25-30cm) is reached. The animals might as well be in a desert.
The hare is a vulnerable creature with little protection in law. There is a national population survey under way now but it will not be completed until June of next year. And it is reckoned that it will take a decade of further surveys to show if the poor creature will cheat extinction.
Over the past several years, ICABS has been keeping track of hunts which trespass onto railway lines. Each time we become aware of another incursion onto tracks, we urge Iarnrod Eireann and the Minister for Transport to pursue the matter and prosecute the hunts in question. To our knowledge, no prosecutions have taken place despite assurances from the national rail company that they "will always seek to prosecute offenders when sufficient evidence is available to secure such a prosecution".
The ICABS appeals are made in the interests of rail passenger safety. We believe that the presence of hunters, horses and hounds on railway lines amounts to an accident waiting to happen.
Among the incidents reported within the last year are:
- A hunt in Limerick crossing a railway line in pursuit of a fox
- Hunt hounds being brought along the sides of a railway line to find and chase foxes
- A mounted hunter in Galway jumping over double railway gates as the Galway train approached.
- A pack of hounds chasing a fox across railway tracks
Please write to Iarnrod Eireann and ask them what action they have taken, or plan to take, to ensure that hunts are kept off railway lines. If you are one of Iarnrod Eireann's customers, please mention this in your correspondence.
Mr Richard Fearn
Dear Mr Fearn,
I understand that the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has brought to your attention several instances of hunts coming on to railway tracks and that photographs, video footage and media clippings have been supplied to Iarnrod Eireann over the years as evidence.
As trespass on to railway tracks can have serious implications for the safety of rail passengers, I wish to ask what action your company is taking to impress on hunts the seriousness of such incursions. I would also like to know if any hunts have been prosecuted to date.
As an Iarnrod Eireann customer, I am very concerned to learn that hunters, horses and hounds have been coming on to tracks.
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you to everybody who contacted the International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) about the bullfighting content on their website.
As reported in the last edition of Animal Voice, the popular site was presenting details about bullfight times, dates and contact details for bullring venues.
We are delighted to pass on the good news that the ISTC have promised to have the bullfighting content removed from the site.
A spokesperson stated: "We certainly do not want to be seen as condoning bloodsports. As I mentioned before, this part of our website is supplied by an independent provider and we buy the content 'in bulk'. However, we have asked them to remove any references to bullfights in the content for publication on our website. They have agreed to look into how they can filter this out and so we are hopeful that this will disappear from our website shortly."
ICABS thanks the ISTC for their prompt and positive response.
"After several circuits of the covert we saw the hunted fox go away - albeit for a short distance before it took refuge under the roots of an old tree. As hounds arrived he bolted and made a short dash for a rocky escarpment - with the pressure on he bolted once more taking hounds back into the covert. The pace and cry quickening - a further circuit again before heading out into the boggy grasslands beyond - only to go to ground two fields later in the bank of a ditch. Leaving the terriers to do their bit, hounds moved on to draw a rough bog..." (from "Where the Emerald gems sparkle", an article about hunting in Ireland. Hounds Magazine, VOL 22, No 5)
"[Feral goats] are tough sods all right. And head shots can sometimes be not too effective, considering that's what they use to fight with [head butting]...If you do go shooting, try for the kids, they are better eating and aren't as savvy as the adults...I used to cull goats in Australia. I wouldn't go for a head shot as you could miss and hit the jaw." (From an online discussion about shooting feral goats in Ireland. Feral goats unfortunately enjoy no protection under Ireland's Wildlife Act)
"The sick owners who viciously chopped off a greyhound's ears and then dumped her, are being tracked down by DNA profiling. The Star reported that two-year-old greyhound Aoife was found in Tramore, Co. Waterford on April 7 last. She was starving, dehydrated and her ears had been cut off - because they had tattoos which linked her to her owner. Now the Irish Greyhound Board using DNA profiling for the first time, has tracked down her cruel owner." (from "DNA to nab cruel dog butchers - Net closing on ear-chopping sickos", The Star, 14th August, 2006)
"Swedish rider Helena Lundback was yesterday fined 3,000 Swiss francs after she was seen mistreating a horse on Tuesday in training for the Dublin Horse Show. The Federation Equestre Internationale said its Judicial Committee, presided over by Irishman Philip O' Connor heard evidence that: 'Ms Lundback was witnessed making excessive use of a whip on her horse Conan in the show's exercise area.'" (from "Rider fined for excessive whip use", Irish Examiner, 12th August, 2006).
Blood sports spin doctor
The blood sports enthusiasts are not content with the fact that, shamefully and to our disgrace as a supposedly civilised country, they are allowed to carry on hounding foxes, hares and tame deer for "sport".
Now they want the general public to like them as well!
According to UK hunting magazine, 'Horse and Hound', the hunters are about to launch a "charm offensive" on the Irish nation. They want to "educate" the public - mainly people in urban areas whom, they believe, don't understand their activities and who "perceive" them to be cruel.
They have employed the services of an ex-government spin doctor to help them in their quest to make their cruelty acceptable to urban dwellers. They assume that country people are on side with them.
They're wrong! Many, many country people abhor blood sports.
We note that they intend to promote themselves via cinema ads.
No doubt, the image they will portray will be of the picture postcard, chocolate box variety. The public won't see the cruel reality on the ground - for example, foxes being ripped apart at the end of a hunt or dug out from their earths to be killed.
Their ex-government spin doctor may charm the public for all he is worth, but he won't succeed in fooling people.
He was quite right when he told 'Horse and Hound' that it was impossible to change the perception of "political incorrectness" that people have about hunting.
As one of their own supporters candidly put it, "the problem for both British and Irish hunting people is that their sport, no matter how traditional or how highly eulogised by its supporters, is a minority sport with the damning spectre of cruelty hanging over it."
"This is the key issue. Is hunting cruel? The answer of course, is that it is. How can such cruelty be justified? The answer is that it cannot." (Nicholas O'Hare, hunting columnist, The Irish Field, February, 1992).
Hunting wild animals with packs of dogs has been banned in Britain, leaving Ireland as the last cruelty outpost in these islands. Our legislators cannot continue to turn a blind eye. Hunting with hounds must be outlawed.
Ronaldo's ad is disappointing
He may be considered one of the football greats and a World Cup superstar but Ronaldo's latest performance will leave many fans sorely disappointed. A television advert broadcast in Brazil sees the Real Madrid striker entering a bullfighting arena to show off his skills.
The ad for Brahma has Ronaldo seated in the audience at a corrida. Unable to open his beer bottle, he confronts the bull and uses its horn to flip off the cap. Also shown are superimposed scenes of him disorientating the animal with his on-the-ball manoeuvres.
Despite being made aware of the sheer cruelty of bull-fighting, the company responsible has defended the advert saying that no animal was harmed and arguing that it does not indicate support for the activity.
Most would agree, however, that using a blood sport to promote a beer is decidedly distasteful. Even more so when it is realised that bull-fighting is banned in Brazil.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports appeals to people to follow in Ronaldo's footsteps only if they're on a football field. If visiting a bull-fighting country this summer, please shun the venues of torture where bulls are taunted, cut up and killed.
Those who wish to avoid bullfight black spots altogether are invited to consult our www.banbloodsports.com website which exposes offending towns and villages in France, Portugal, Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
The cruelty of coursing
I fully agree with John Fitzgerald when he states that hare coursing is cruel and should be outlawed, and so do 80 per cent of the population, according to the last independent poll taken on the issue.
Mary Teresa Carr-Farrelly (Letters, June 7) and the coursers are totally into denial about the cruelty inflicted on hares as a result of their outdated and utterly barbaric activity.
She states that hares are not caught in "any cruel manner", but the very act of snatching hares from the wild in nets is cruel in itself, and causes immense stress and terror for these timid creatures.
On the day of coursing, the hares must run for their lives before two greyhounds.
Hares continue to be struck, tossed into the air and mauled into the ground, and video evidence obtained by ICABS is testament to this.
Maulings can lead to severe injury and death, and not a coursing season goes by without such incidents taking place, according to reports from the National Parks & Wildlife Service, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Other abuses noted in such reports in recent years were the taking of pregnant hares from the wild, with 16 leverets being found in a coursing compound; hares becoming sick while in captivity with 40 hares dying from stress related diseases following a coursing meeting in Wexford two years ago, while a National Parks Ranger noted that 20 hares were "poor runners" and "appeared to be suffering from malnutrition" at a coursing meeting in Sligo in 2004. There were also instances of severely injured hares released back into the wild, one hare with an eye injury and the other with a severely injured back leg following a coursing meeting in Clare.
Another serious issue is the real possibility that our hare population may be in decline. All hare hunting has been suspended in Northern Ireland in response to a decline in hare numbers in that jurisdiction.
Yet, licences continue to be issued by the Minister for the Environment for the taking and disturbing of up to 7,000 hares from the wild annually for use as live lures, despite the fact that this same Department has designated the hare as being of "the highest conservation concern".
Let the hare sit and don't hunt him
Sir - Joe Kennedy's piece (Country Matters, July 23) was a timely reminder that the Irish hare still lacks the protection it needs to avoid becoming an endangered species. Hare coursing fans justify their foul sport by claiming that the setting of greyhounds after hares in a wired enclosure is "natural" and that therefore they are respecting the laws of nature.
In fact, it is anything but natural to snatch these animals from their wild state, confine them in paddocks for weeks, and then use them as bait for greyhounds that have been trained to kill. Unaccustomed to captivity and being handled by humans, they are totally disorientated by the time they are taken in little boxes to a coursing park. Hares have brittle bones. Any contact with a fast-moving greyhound can cause agonising internal injury.
Having allowed it to be pushed to the verge of extinction in many parts of Ireland, the Oireachtas must now extend mercy to this gentle creature. For too long, cruel men have been permitted by a backward and daft piece of legislation to make it run for its life in terror.
After decades of torment and persecution, it's time to call off the dogs...and let the hare sit.
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