Animal Voice - November 2006
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports

In This Issue:

01. Another season of terror begins
02. Coursers net hares without licence
03. Coursing: hare had leg "almost completely broken off"
04. Otter decline sparks fresh call for mink hunt ban
05. Rally for animals on December 10th
06. Bullfighting's boring and pointless: Ryanair boss
07. Heritage Council grant facilitates rabbit eradication
08. Hunts on roads: Gay given evidence
09. Spain's horrendous "bull on fire" event
10. Thumbs up for draghunting on TG4
11. TB in badgers - cattle confirmed as culprits
12. De Rossa pressing for ban on cat and dog fur trade
13. Cat and dog fur: More info
14. ICABS Christmas Cards
15. New ICABS 2007 petition - Download now!
16. Recorded highlights of rescued leverets
17. Tune in to the ICABS Channel

01. Another season of terror begins

The short reprieve is over for Ireland's wildlife and a new season of terror has begun.

Coursers are out with nets, snatching timid, vulnerable hares from the wild for use as live lures at coursing meetings. Foxes are being chased, killed and dug out of the ground by foxhunters. Meanwhile, the Ward Union carted deer hunt is back chasing domesticated deer around the countryside of Meath and North County Dublin.

These barbaric activities are made possible with licences from the Minister for the Environment - apart from foxhunting, which doesn't even require a licence.

It's hard to believe that this is the year 2006 and that our government not only turns a blind eye to this cruel abuse, but actually continues to facilitate it.

Please join us today in once again calling on Minister Dick Roche to call a halt to the cruelty and rid Ireland of blood sport abuse.


Please phone, fax and/or email Minister Dick Roche and urge him to show compassion for the deer and hares. Tell him that he is facilitating terrible animal cruelty by issuing coursing and deer hunting licences. Please also ask the Minister to amend the Wildlife Act to give protection to Ireland's persecuted fox population. Thank you.

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1

Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640

Please also contact your local TDs/Senators and urge them to work for an end to all blood sports.

Contact your TD at:
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889.

Contact your Senator at:
Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 732 623.

For the names and contact details of politicians, please visit the Irish Government Website at:

02. Coursers net hares without licence

A coursing club in the midlands was caught with hares on its premises - outside the hare netting period specified on a licence issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Westmeath United coursing club, based near Killucan, was reported to the NPWS by ICABS after an anonymous caller to our offices brought the situation to our attention.

The NPWS licence allows hares to be snatched from the wild after September 1st. Our informant pointed out that hares had been caught in August.

The Wildlife Service reacted swiftly to the ICABS report. Local officers inspected the club's premises and found 15 hares. We understand that these creatures were immediately released back into the wild, on the instructions of the NPWS officials.

Brendan Farrelly, the club's chairman, admitted that the hares had been caught outside the licence period. Quoted in the local media, he claimed that "it was simply over-enthusiasm on the part of some members."

Mr Farrelly resigned his position as chairman of the general purposes sub-committee of the Irish Coursing Club, but maintained that this was unconnected to his own club's licence breach.

Sadly, despite appeals by ICABS to Minister Dick Roche, the coursing club was allowed to resume capturing hares in September. Their meeting went ahead as planned in October.

ICABS believes, however, that a prosecution for a breach of the 1976 Wildlife Act licence regulations will now be taken by National Parks and Wildlife Service officials.

03. Coursing: hare had leg "almost completely broken off"

A hare spotted suffering in a coursing enclosure was found to have a leg which was "almost completely broken off", ICABS was disturbed to learn. The gruesome detail appears in a report filed by a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger who monitored the Westmeath United Coursing Club meeting in October 2005. The report was sent to ICABS this month after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Other sickening details revealed in the documents include:

  • A muzzled greyhound grabbing a hare's leg, prompting the ranger to question the effectiveness of muzzling.
  • A small hare (a leveret?) being chased by a greyhound.
  • A rabbit within the coursing grounds being mauled by a greyhound.

According to the documents, the three day coursing meeting at Killucan saw 15 hares being hit by greyhounds; four of these were listed as being injured. The hare with the broken leg was subsequently destroyed.

In the Summer 2004 edition of Animal Voice, we revealed how a wildlife ranger expressed "serious reservations" about the Westmeath United club's coursing of pregnant hares and hares which had just given birth. More recently, the club was found in August 2006 to be in breach of its licence to net hares (see related article above).


Please contact Minister Dick Roche today and urge him to take immediate action to ban hare coursing in Ireland. Tell him that as long as hares are used as lures in coursing, animal suffering is inevitable. Demand an end to this cruel blood sport.

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1

Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640

(Please compose your own personal letter if possible. If you do not have time to do this, please send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Dear Minister Roche,

Documents obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports reveal more disturbing details about the suffering caused to hares in coursing.

I refer in particular to a hare which was found with a leg that was "almost completely broken off". The unfortunate creature was discovered by a NPWS ranger who was monitoring the meeting.

This is just one example of what our hares have to endure in this appalling blood sport. I wish to ask you, Minister, how you can continue to licence this activity when you are aware of the cruelty associated with it.

I implore you to withdraw the latest licence you have granted to coursing clubs to net hares from the wild and to insist that the only coursing that is permitted in Ireland is drag coursing. This, as you know, is a perfectly viable alternative.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,


04. Otter decline sparks fresh call for mink hunt ban

Otters have declined by nearly 18 per cent in the past 25 years and numbers are continuing to fall, according to the results of a NPWS survey.

"Water quality, riverside habitat and availability of suitable food are likely to be the most important factors determining the abundance of otters," the report states, acknowledging too that hunting exacerbated the decline in the past.

The findings, published in September, also note the possibility that in some of the 525 sites surveyed, otters are being deliberately disturbed by humans.

Thanks to years of lobbying by ICABS and an EU Directive, otter hunting is now illegal in Ireland. However, to circumvent the ban, otter hunters simply started hunting mink instead. We have always maintained that since mink and otters inhabit the same stretches of river, any form of hunting will significantly disturb the protected otter (Please see the new ICABS Channel at for footage of mink hunting in Ireland).

ICABS will be renewing our call for a ban on mink hunting.

Note: The full report can be downloaded from the NPWS website by clicking on the following link:,3651,en.pdf


Please contact Environment Minister, Dick Roche, and ask him to do everything possible to halt the otter decline - including a ban on mink hunting which results in severe disturbances to otters and their habitats.

Minister Dick Roche
Dept of the Environment
Custom House, Dublin 1.

Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640

05. Rally for animals on December 10th

The Animal Rights Action Network has organised an animal welfare rally for Sunday, December 10th, 2006. Anyone who cares about animals is being urged to meet up at 1pm at the Garden of Remembrance (Parnell Square, Dublin) and join a peaceful march to Dail Eireann.

The event is being held to coincide with International Day for Animal Rights. Says rally organiser, John Carmody, "It's not often we get chances like this to rally against animal cruelty; I can't over-state how important it is for you to come along."

For full details, see or phone ARAN on 087-6275579.

06. Bullfighting's boring and pointless: Ryanair boss

Ryanair CEO, Michael O'Leary, has told the Irish Council Against Blood Sports that he views bullfighting as "boring and pointless".

The comments were part of a response to an ICABS appeal in which we asked the airline to stop publicising bullfighting and bullruns in its in-flight magazine.

The June edition of the publication featured a bullrun photograph on the front cover alongside the headline "Wild at heart - come to Pamplona and run with the bulls!".

Although the feature acknowledged the danger to participants ("countless people have been injured during the run, with 13 runners reported to have been killed") and a higher "fatality rate" for the bulls, the predominant impression was that the bullrun was being celebrated.

Elsewhere in the magazine, bullfighting is mentioned three times in a section about Jerez. The Spanish city is referred to as "the home of fighting bulls".

In our letter to Mr O'Leary, we pointed out that bullruns are dangerous to both bulls and humans.

"The bulls used are taunted, hit with sticks, subjected to electric shock prods, may suffer injuries including broken bones and are all destined to be brutally killed at the end of the day in a bullring," we pointed out. "The event is also dangerous to the people who travel to it. During the 2006 Pamplona festival, a man was left paralysed after being hit by a cow."

"We appeal to you to intervene to ensure that the Ryanair Magazine no longer publicises or promotes events involving animal cruelty," we added. "There are very few major companies remaining in the world which would want to be in any way associated with animal cruelty. We hope that Ryanair can act to ensure that it is not one of them."

Despite admitting that he is personally unimpressed with the blood sport, the Ryanair boss refused to act to keep bullfighting out of the magazine.

"We have no intention of intervening, as you suggest, to restrict the articles which appear in it," he said. "Particularly when they promote or refer to Ryanair destinations."

He added that Ryanair "respect people's right to attend bullfights if they so wish".

ICABS is particularly disappointed at this response. Earlier in the year, the magazine's Austrian-based editor agreed with us that bullfighting is cruel. At the time, he promised that no further references to bullfighting would appear in Ryanair Magazine.


Please join us in our call to Ryanair to stop publicising bullfighting, bullrunning or any event which involves cruelty to animals.

Mr Michael O'Leary
CEO, Ryanair
Corporate Head Office
Dublin Airport, Co Dublin.

Tel: 00 353 (0)1 812 1212
Fax: 00 353 (0)1 812 1213

07. Heritage Council grant facilitates rabbit eradication

ICABS has learned that the Heritage Council has approved a substantial grant for a project which involves the trapping and killing of island rabbits.

The project "to eradicate rabbits from the north west sector of Lambay Island" has secured 27,000 Euro under the council's 2006 Biodiversity Grant Awards.

According to their website, the scheme is intended as the "first phase of a plan to free Lambay of rabbits which are having a highly detrimental effect on the biodiversity of the island".

Lambay Island is a privately-owned island off the coast of north County Dublin. It is designated as both a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (who, we understand, support the rabbit killings) state that the island has "long been maintained as a wildlife sanctuary by its owners".

Responding to an information request from ICABS, the Heritage Council explained that the proposal outlined in the successful funding application involved erecting rabbit fencing on a section of the island and the construction of "multicapture drop traps". The rabbits would then be "extracted [from the traps] and humanely destroyed".

ICABS is saddened that the project on Lambay will lead to the deaths of wildlife. We have asked the Heritage Council if a non-lethal approach to dealing with any problems caused by the rabbits has been considered.

08. Hunts on roads: Gay given evidence

To coincide with the formal establishment of the Road Safety Authority, ICABS has sent video footage to chairman, Gay Byrne, showing numerous instances of hunts encroaching on to public roads. We are calling for the elimination of this potential danger by making roads off limits to hunts.

The footage follows a letter sent to the RSA back in March in which we highlighted the hazards. In reply, Gay Byrne stated: "I note with interest the points you make about the potential road safety issues arising from hunts and their access to public roads. This is an issue the RSA will consider further."

ICABS has welcomed this positive response and are pleased to now be able to supply the video evidence which explicitly shows the true extent of the problem. Our footage shows:

  • Mounted hunters causing tailbacks by hogging entire lanes
  • Hunters riding on both sides of a main road
  • Hunt-related traffic forcing an ambulance and school bus to stop
  • Hunters and hounds coming on to a road right in front of an approaching car

In our latest letter to the Road Safety Authority, ICABS has asked them to prioritise moves to keep hunters off the roads. We pointed out that if a motorist hits a hunt horse or swerves to avoid a collision with horses or hounds, serious injuries or fatalities may result.

In reply, the Road Safety Authority's CEO, Noel Brett, stated: "I am grateful for this information. This is a matter which I will personally discuss with the Assistant Commissioner heading up the Garda National Traffic Corps."


1. Please do not hesitate to complain to the Gardai if hunts come on to public roads and interfere in any way with the free flow of traffic. The phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland can be found at

2. Please write to Garda HQ and ask for urgent action to be taken to keep hunts off our roads. If you have seen hunters, hunt horses and hounds and/or hunt followers causing inconvenience or danger to road users, please mention this in your correspondence.

Mr Noel Conroy
Commissioner, An Garda Siochana
Garda HQ, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8

3. Urge the Road Safety Authority to prioritise action to make roads off-limits to hunts.

Mr Noel Brett
CEO, Road Safety Authority
Government Offices, Ballina, Co Mayo.
Tel: 096-78289. Fax: 096-78287.

4. Write to your local TD and Senator and alert them to the dangers of hunts coming on to roads. Urge them to support the campaign to clear our roads of hunt horses and hounds and remind them of the merits of drag hunting, the humane alternative to fox and deer hunting. In draghunting, the route followed by the "hunt" is pre-planned so as to avoid encroachments on to public roads, railway lines and prohibited land.

Contact your TD at:
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889.

Contact your Senator at:
Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 732 623.

For the names and contact details of politicians, please visit the Irish Government Website at

09. Spain's horrendous "bull on fire" event

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is joining groups across Europe in condemning one of Spain's most horrendous events. The Toro Jubilo or "Bull on Fire" involves setting the horns of bulls alight. Such is the suffering that some creatures attempt to commit suicide.

Maria Lopes of the International Movement Against Bullfights described what was set to take place at Medinaceli city earlier this month:

"This particular savagery consists of putting a kind of ball on both the horns of the bulls and setting fire to the balls," she says. "The bulls are released on the streets and these balls burn for hours. They burn the horns, the body and the eyes, causing terrible suffering. Several times the bulls try to kill themselves against walls, due to the horrible pain."

ICABS has written to the Medinaceli authorities to express our shock and absolute disgust at this terrible animal abuse. We've reminded them that this is the 21st Century and that it's time to leave barbarity in the past. Please urgently join us in our appeal.


1. If holidaying in Spain, avoid visiting Medinaceli until the city is free from animal cruelty events.

2. Send a protest message to the following.

City Hall of Medinaceli
Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 1
42240 Medinaceli
Soria, Spain.
Fax + 34 975326053

President of the Diputacion Prov. Soria
C/ Caballeros, 17 Soria
Soria 42071, Spain.
Tel: +34 975 211089
Fax: +34 975 101091

Tourism: Soria

President of the Junta de Castilla y Leon
Plaza de Castilla y Leon,1
Fax: + 34 983411269

Tourism: Castilla y Leon

10. Thumbs up for draghunting on TG4

Draghunting, the humane alternative to foxhunting, has been given a major thumbs up on TG4's An Tuath Nua programme. Heralded as the future for blood sports groups, the activity was not only praised for being animal-friendly but also because participants are guaranteed "a good run, good jumps and great fun" during every outing.

In contrast to foxhunting with its disjointed, stop-and-start routine, the route of a draghunt is pre-planned to ensure that riders are given a challenging and pacey course to run.

Fionnuala Ni Chiobhain of the South Leitrim Harriers Draghunt explained on the An Tuath Nua programme that the scent spread across the countryside is made from linseed oil, paraffin oil and urine.

"The hounds follow this scent and the horses follow the hounds," she said. "Everything is pre-planned; the route is pre-ordained. We know exactly where we'll be jumping and running. It's easier to have a better day as we know we'll have some good jumps and it'll be safe. We know where we're going and everyone is promised a great day as it's good running, jumping and fun!"

Members of the "hunt" interviewed on the programme praised draghunting as being:

  • A great social outlet which is popular with people of all ages and from all backgrounds

  • More acceptable to the farmers who allow access to their land - the route of the draghunt can be tailored to take into account the wishes of landowners.

  • A lot faster and fluid compared to hunting animals

  • Great fun with a variety of challenging jumps

With so much in its favour and a high level of acceptance among the public, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has no doubt that draghunting is the future for hunting in Ireland. It's a view shared by draghunt participants who have seen interest in the activity rising.

"I suppose many Irish hunts will go down this [draghunting] route," commented Fionnuala Ni Chiobhain on An Tuath Nua. "It's growing all the time as it's safe and we're not bothering any foxes or animals. You're promised a good run, some good jumps and great fun every time you go out."

11. TB in badgers - cattle confirmed as culprits

"A major new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the premier scientific journal in the US, has revealed that cattle rapidly spread bovine TB to badgers. The findings mean that by controlling the disease in cattle through better testing, the prevalence of TB in badgers will also be reduced. The research, from the Krebs Randomised Badger Culling Trial, also confirms that killing badgers increases bovine TB in badger populations, probably through disruption of the animals' stable social order, and by increasing the amount of contact badgers have with cattle. The finding means badger culling has no place in any scientific strategy to control tuberculosis in cattle herds..." (from an article by Joe Kennedy in the Sunday Independent of October 22nd, 2006.)

12. De Rossa pressing for ban on cat and dog fur trade

The European Commission has confirmed to Irish MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, that Ireland has no legislation banning the trade in cat and dog fur and that it is currently not mandatory here to label products containing such fur. Mr De Rossa is pressing for an EU ban on the cruel trade.

The information was presented in August in a Commission reply to questions tabled in the European Parliament by Mr De Rossa. The full text of the questions and answers appear below.

Written Question E-2762/06
by Proinsias De Rossa (PSE) to the Commission
Subject: Commission's request for data from Member States on cat and dog fur

Could the Commission indicate which Member States have now responded to the Commission's request of June 2005 for data about the trade in cat and dog fur and the use of these furs? What was the deadline suggested by the Commission for responses?

What response did the Commission receive from Ireland?

Which Member States have yet to reply to the Commission's request for information on their legislation on the trade in, or imports of, cat and dog furs?

Is the Commission considering a proposal to harmonise legislation on the keeping of cats and dogs for fur production?

Written Question E-2778/06
by Proinsias De Rossa (PSE) to the Commission
Subject: Proposed ban on cat and dog fur

With regard to the Commission's statement, as reported in the press release (PRES/06/39) issued after the 2708th Council Meeting, Agriculture and Fisheries, in Brussels on 20 February 2006, that it would come forward with a proposal banning imports of cat and dog fur before the end of the Austrian Presidency (i.e. by the end of June), can it be taken that this proposal will also cover cat and dog fur products and other items derived from cat and dog fur?

Answer given by Mr. Kyprianou on behalf of the Commission (2nd August, 2006)

The Honourable Member asks a number of questions about a possible ban on cat and dog fur trade or imports.

A first letter to the Chief Veterinary Officers asking questions on national bans on cat and dog fur trade, their enforcement, data about the trade and analytical methods was sent in 2005. A second letter asking for further clarification was sent on 21 April 2006.

Up to 27 June 2006 (deadline suggested was 15 May 2006), the following Member States had replied to the Commission's second letter: Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Ireland reported to the Commission that there is currently no legislation banning the trade in cat and dog fur. Neither is there any national legislation making it mandatory to label cat and dog fur products. Furthermore it was reported that no data at present exists in Ireland about the amount of trade of cat and dog fur, or the import of cat and dog fur, and the Irish authorities are currently not aware of specific analytical methods to distinguish cat and dog fur from the fur of other animals.

Up to 27 June 2006, the following six Member States had yet to reply to the second letter: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta and Slovakia.

The Commission has confirmed that the political will to tackle this problem exists, and that the Commission is working to resolve a number of legal questions relating to the correct legal basis for a proposal and compatibility with the rules of the World Trade Organization. The Commission is in the process of examining the possibilities for action at Community level.

The Commission has to base its proposal on sound data, and to provide information on how the necessary enforcement could work. Furthermore, the Commission has been recently informed that in some Member States cat furs are traded and sold and in this respect footage from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) has been sent to the Commission showing the alleged trade in cat and dog fur in the European Union. The Commission considered that further information from the Member States was needed, hence the second letter of 21 April 2006 with clarification requested on further more specific aspects.

13. Cat and dog fur: More info
(Source: Humane Society of the United States)

Millions of dogs and cats are killed annually for their fur. Investigators found stores of 50,000 to 100,000 pelts at factories in Asia. Usually 10 to 12 adult dogs are killed to manufacture each coat; even more if puppy fur is used. One cat fur coat requires the killing of up to 24 felines. Fur-covered figurines may contain the pieces of pelts of several animals, or may just be the pelt of one unlucky victim. The slaughter of these animals is violent and pitiless. Cats are strangled inside their cages as other cats look on. Dogs are noosed about the neck with metal wires, then slashed across the groin. The wire noose cuts into their throats as they struggle in pain before finally losing consciousness.

Dog and cat fur is marketed and sold to Europe and North America. Dogs and cats may be killed in one country and processed in another, and the finished products sold anywhere in the world. The primary use of dog and cat fur is not for full-length fur coats, but for fur-trim parkas, gloves, hats, toys, and other accessories. Fur-covered animal figurines also frequently use dog and cat fur-an estimated 20% of all the figurines made, in fact (the balance of fur comes from rabbits and goats).

This slaughter is so unconscionable that the industry has tried to obscure the truth with misleading labels. With rare exceptions, dog and cat products are not labelled as such. Dog-fur products have been sold as gae-wolf, goupee, Asian wolf, China wolf, Mongolia dog fur, Sobaki, Pommern wolf, dogue de Chine, and loup d'Asie. Cat fur has sold as rabbit, maopee, goyangi, katzenfelle, natuerliches mittel, chat de Chine, and gatto cinesi. In fact, fur manufacturers in China told HSUS investigators they would sew any label onto dog and cat garments to make them more marketable.


Please avoid purchasing items which contain fur from cats, dogs or any animal. Don't assume that fur on an item is fake fur. If you have doubts, do not purchase it.

For information about Ireland's deplorable fur industry and how you can help end it, please visit the CIWF website:

14. ICABS Christmas Cards

Show you care about animals this holiday season - choose from our selection of 9 exclusive Christmas cards. Visit the ICABS website, make your card choices and then simply print, fold and give to your friends, family and loved ones.

15. New ICABS 2007 petition - Download now!

To download and print the new "Ban Blood Sports in Ireland in 2007" petition, visit the Petitions page of the ICABS website. Please print and collect signatures among your friends, family and work colleagues. Copies of filled petitions will be sent to the government to remind them of the majority opposition to blood sports in Ireland.

16. Recorded highlights of rescued leverets

Check out the Irish Hare Initiative's website to view footage of some of the rescued leverets which have passed through their purpose-built facility in County Tyrone.

Orphaned leverets are brought to the centre from all over Ireland for rearing, rehabilitation and release. Those shown in the streaming video were successfully released in June.

The leverets have minimal contact with humans and the remote viewing allows constant observation and assessment of the leverets' health, development and survival skills prior to release.

To view the footage, visit and click on hare webcam link at the top of the page.

17. Tune in to the ICABS Channel

Footage of blood sport cruelty in Ireland can now be viewed on the new ICABS Channel on Youtube. We have added several video presentations already and more will appear in the coming weeks.

We believe that this is a powerful resource for highlighting to the world the ugly reality of blood sports in our country and we hope it will increase the level of support for our campaign.

Please have a look at the ICABS Channel and let us know what you think -


Please become a supporter of ICABS. Annual rates are just 15 Euro (Individual), 20 Euro (Family) and 8 Euro (Unwaged). Please contact us for the relevant form or download it directly from:

Thank you to those who have sent in a subscription/donation in recent months. Your generosity ensures that our work for Irish animals will continue.

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