Newsletter

Animal Voice, Winter 2006-07 (40th Anniversary Edition)
Full Contents - Sections 1-4 / Pages 1-44

Welcome Message

Welcome to this special 40th Anniversary edition of Animal Voice and thank you for your patience in waiting for our latest round-up of campaigning news and updates.

ICABS was formed in 1966 and over the past four decades we have worked tirelessly against animal cruelty in Ireland and around the world. The last twelve months have seen a continuation of our efforts to bring blood sports to an end. It's been a very busy and productive period for us.

We started the year with a protest against coursing in Kilkenny and continued pressing for a ban on this and other forms of animal abuse.

Much time has been devoted to creating a new campaign DVD which, we hope, will mark a turning point in the campaign. Currently being distributed to all the country's politicians, it contains an hour and a half of content exposing all the country's blood sports. Our fervent wish is that once they see the ugly reality, many more of our legislators will unite to finally rid Ireland of this appalling cruelty.

The DVD has been produced entirely in-house by Philip Kiernan whose expertise knows no bounds. Philip has worked diligently over the last six months on this project - a task that would normally have to be contracted to outside experts, at a huge cost to ICABS.

2007 will be another important year for the campaign, with a general election in the offing. The Green Party have pledged to ban blood sports when in government, as our cover story reveals, so your support for the Greens and others sympathetic to our cause will be vital. When candidates arrive on your door step, make your views known on blood sports and ask them if they will support the introduction of legislation to ban hunting and coursing.

As you'll read in the following pages, we continue to have success with our appeals to companies and agencies which sponsor or promote blood sports.

Of particular note was the immediate withdrawal by Irish Dog Foods of sponsorship of stakes at the coursing finals in Clonmel. Similarly, Red Mills who had sponsored coursing events over the years have now put an end to this.

Every single person can make a difference, and as usual, we have highlighted some issues for action in this newsletter. So, if you have time to spare, please send a letter, write an email or make a telephone call.

As always, fund-raising is vital to our campaign, and we want to thank those who very kindly donated over the last year and sent us letters of support and encouragement.

A big thank you to Tanya for her brilliant band night here in Mullingar and to Vicki who ran for us in the women's mini marathon. If anyone has any ideas for fund-raisers, we'd be delighted to hear from you.

A special thanks to the Dublin Support Group of ICABS for their generous contribution towards the costs of producing this edition of Animal Voice.

Finally, on behalf of ICABS, I thank all of you, our loyal and kind supporters, for your continued support. This ensures that our campaign continues.

Kind Regards,
Aideen Yourell
Campaign Director

We'll end blood sports: Greens

The Green Party have pledged to ban blood sports in Ireland if they succeed in getting into government after the next general election.

In their latest policy document, the party promises that, when in government, they will "introduce legislation to end blood sports" and "campaign for heavy penalties for organisers of, and participants in, illegal blood sports".

The statements appear in an extensive animal welfare section of the policy document and copper fasten the Green Party's commitment to ridding Ireland of blood sport cruelty.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports wholeheartedly welcomes this development which represents the greatest hope in years for hunted animals.

ICABS member and Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, says that when his party gets the opportunity, they will ban hare coursing, foxhunting, carted deer hunting and mink hunting and encourage the alternatives of drag hunting and drag coursing.

Not only are they determined to secure a blood sport ban in Ireland but, if voted into the next government, the Greens will also turn their attention to animal abusers across the continent.

"The Party will campaign through the European Parliament for legislation, which will make it an offence to organise or participate in any illegal blood sport in Europe," their policy document outlines.

Furthermore, sporting activities like greyhound racing and horse racing will also become a focus for the party. "We will closely monitor, through the Animal Welfare Agency, other sports which are based on the use of animals to ensure that no cruelty is taking place," they say.

Other positive promises made include working to end the mass exportation of greyhounds to Spain "where they have been ill-treated, exploited and killed" and the implementation of alternative methods of animal population management other than killing.

"All living creatures must be treated equally in respect of those aspects in which they are equal," the Green Party document asserts. "These aspects would include sentiency, the capacity of both human and non-human animals of experiencing pain, suffering and anxiety."

"Particularly due to their capacity for experiencing fear, anxiety, pain and suffering, animals must not be maltreated or occasioned discomfort," it adds.

Green Party TDs
Poised to ban blood sport cruelty in Ireland: Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent and Green TDs John Gormley, Eamon Ryan, Paul Nicholas Gogarty, Ciaran Cuffe and Dan Boyle.

Coursing man fined for obstruction

An official from the Ballinagar Coursing Club has been fined €300 after being convicted of obstructing a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger. The offence took place following a coursing meet in October 2004.

The Star newspaper reported that Charles Colgan (62) of Cappincur, Tullamore, was fined €200 for obstruction and €100 for refusing to give his name to the ranger.

Ranger Noel Bugler told the special sitting of Tullamore District Court that he had been checking boxes of hares being loaded into a van when Colgan told him to get out of the van.

He said Colgan had told him to f*** off" - and had refused to move when he said he had been assaulted. Bugler told a defence solicitor who suggested he had appeared "out of nowhere" and jumped into the van that he had been trying to "speed things up".

Colgan said the only physical contact had been when Bugler's rubber boot contacted his arm as the ranger was getting out of the van. He agreed that he might had told Bugler to "feck off".

Judge Thomas Fitzpatrick said that he found it hard to reconcile a defence suggestion that getting on top of the hares would frighten them with the fact that the same hares were chased by greyhounds.

Quoted on RTE's Six One News (30 May 2006), the judge added that coursing was a rather controversial "sport" that a lot of people objected to. But, he said that this case had absolutely nothing to do with cruelty.

According to NPWS documents obtained by ICABS, seven hares were struck at the Ballinagar coursing meeting and one hare died of its injuries.

ICABS has congratulated the NPWS for the successful outcome to this court case.

Charles Colgan
Charles Colgan outside the District Court in Tullamore. The Ballinagar Coursing Club official was fined €300.

Bank apologises for advert in foxhunt's publication

Ulster Bank has apologised for an advert in a foxhunt's point-to-point booklet. The advert for the bank's South East Business Centre included the headline "Good Luck to Waterford Hunt".

Following its publication, ICABS contacted the bank's CEO to express our concern and highlight that point-to-point races are major fund-raisers for foxhunts. "We feel sure that the vast majority of Ulster Bank's customers would be opposed to foxhunting," we stated.

Bobbie Bergin, Director of Ulster Bank's Communications and Corporate Division replied as follows: "I would like to apologise for any offence caused and I can assure you that this was not the intention. Ulster Bank does not have an explicit policy in relation to blood sports or, specifically, in terms of sponsorship of blood sports events. However, as a general rule, Ulster Bank would usually not look to sponsor such activities. This is a recognition that the subject of blood sports is a sensitive one which divides opinion of our employees, our customers and the community at large."

"This guiding principle has been advised to our South East Business Centre," he concluded.

Hare capture raffle: complaint lodged

ICABS has lodged a complaint with the National Parks and Wildlife Service over a grotesque bid by the Irish Coursing Club to amass hares for Clonmel's coursing finals.

A €2,000 prize draw organised by the ICC executive committee acted as an incentive to coursing clubs to supply five or more hares to the finals in Clonmel.

"It is most important that the hare stock available to the organising committee for the three-day event is of the highest quality," the ICC stated. "It is hoped that this prize will encourage more clubs to help make this happen."

The winner was announced after a raffle held at Clonmel's Hotel Minella (a coursing sponsor). The club's name was drawn from a hat by the town's Deputy Mayor, Richard Molloy.

Otter decline sparks fresh call for mink hunting 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. (See the ICABS Channel at www.youtube.com/icabs for footage of mink hunting activities in Ireland).

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

ACTION ALERT

Please contact Minister Dick Roche and ask him to do everything possible to halt the otter decline - including a mink hunt ban which results in 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
Email: minister@environ.ie

Extra deer hunt conditions but suffering will continue

After ongoing pressure from ICABS for the Ward Union to be outlawed, conditions attached to the deer hunt's annual licence were tightened up last season.

Minister Dick Roche at the Department of the Environment has imposed the following extra "rules" on the hunt - "deer to be recaptured only if this can be accomplished without danger to the deer", "deer to be recaptured by designated, experienced Ward Union Hunt Club officials, who can be clearly identified in the field" and "hounds are to be called off before any attempt is made to recapture the deer."

Like the muzzling of coursing greyhounds, these conditions do little, if anything, to alleviate the deer's ordeal. ICABS will, of course, be continuing to work towards the day when this outrageous hunt is finally banned.

In the meantime, it is effectively business as usual for the domesticated deer used by the Ward Union. They are still released into the countryside and chased by a pack of dogs. The licence conditions do not address the gruelling chases endured by the deer, during which they may be injured or killed.

From what ICABS has witnessed, recapturing the deer involves grabbing the animal around its neck and dragging it to the ground. This can prove fatal.

As for calling off the hounds just when they've cornered their quarry, this is easier said than done. In a previous season, ICABS has filmed Ward Union hounds surrounding a deer and biting into its hind quarters. One hunter was caught kicking a dog in the head to try and disperse the pack.

This latest season, even with the new conditions in place, we have obtained footage showing a deer trapped at a fence, surrounded by howling dogs.

There is no justification for licensing the Ward Union. We understand that the hunt uses a form of draghunting to exercise its hounds. ICABS will be hounding Minister Roche to force the hunt to permanently replace the deer with a drag.

Green leader praises ICABS campaigners

Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, has expressed his admiration for the active supporters of ICABS whose efforts are helping to secure a safer future for Ireland's animals.

"I commend your courage and dedication and those of the front line people in the Irish Council Against Blood Sports who have kept the hope alive for all of us who want to see the end to cruelty," Mr Sargent stated in a letter in October.

He stressed that his party's commitment to bringing blood sports to an end is as strong as ever.

"The Green Party is completely opposed to violence and cruelty to animals and as we campaign to take enough seats so that we can have a role in the next government we will do everything in our power to end the cruel activities you have so honestly depicted in the 'Blood Sports in Ireland' DVD."

ICABS is very grateful for this continued support and we hope that the Green Party secures a strong position in the next government.

For more info on the Green Party, visit www.greenparty.ie.

Trevor Sargent
Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent

Hunt notice withdrawn from tipp.ie

A notice publicising fox hunting has been withdrawn from a website about Tipperary.

Toffsworld Ltd, the Spanish-based operators of the tipp.ie site, swiftly removed the content after an appeal from ICABS.

We pointed to the cruelty of the blood sport and noted that Ireland's national tourism body no longer promotes hunting.

The notice, which referred to "major hunts hunting three days per week and some packs hunting on Sundays" was subsequently eliminated from the site. So too was a photograph of mounted hunters alongside a pack of foxhounds.

ICABS has thanked the company for their positive response.

Coursing meet should have been stopped

Hares in captivity at Gorey Coursing Club were "not in great condition", according to National Parks and Wildlife Service documents obtained by ICABS earlier this year.

On both days of the October 2005 coursing meeting, the wildlife ranger expressed his concern about the condition of the hares to be used. An Irish Coursing Club steward suggested that this "may be due to the wet weather over the last few days."

Vet Shane McGuckin from the Veterinary Hospital in Arklow examined the 61 hares held by the coursing club and "found some of them to be slightly thin".

However, despite these concerns, the coursing event went ahead, albeit with a reduced number of courses.

The ranger's report cited 11 hares hit by dogs during the meeting, with two being injured and one killed. His report outlined how he supervised the release of 36 hares with a coursing official.

The remaining 24 hares, according to the report, were released by the coursers. With no NPWS supervision, we can only speculate on the fate of these hares in the wild, given their poor condition.

Among the hares released back into the wild, according to the figures quoted by the ranger, was an injured hare.

ICABS contends that when the ranger discovered that the hares were not in great condition, the meeting should have been called off.

It is a breach of licence conditions to course sick hares.

Dozens of hares in enclosure
Hares in a coursing club enclosure. Once removed from their natural habitat, the creatures' chances of survival diminish. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Hunters aim for "strong links" with the ISPCA

An article in Horse and Hound magazine, has claimed that hunters are aiming to "keep strong links" with the ISPCA.

"No doubt the ISPCA will be moving swiftly to refute this out of hand, and deny any suggested links with hunters, given the ISPCA's stated policy on blood sports," ICABS remarked in a letter to ISPCA HQ.

General Manager, Mark Beazley replied: "I have forwarded it to the ISPCA officers and recommended that we immediately write to Horse and Hound clarifying ISPCA policy with regards to hunting."

We won't sponsor coursing event: pet food company

The management of Irish Dog Foods Ltd promised in January that they would not be sponsoring a coursing event at the national finals in Clonmel.

The Naas-based company was responding to an ICABS appeal which was prompted by a Sporting Press report. The article stated: "Irish Dog Foods Ltd are to sponsor the two new stakes to be run, circumstances permitting, at the forthcoming National Coursing Meeting."

But when ICABS appealed to the company to withdraw as a sponsor of the blood sport, we were told by management that: "Irish Dog Foods (Madra, Supercat and Irish Rover) would like to inform you we will not be sponsoring the forthcoming event in Clonmel."

We have thanked the company for their positive response.

Gregory questions beaglers' kill data

The Environment Minister, Dick Roche, has said that he "has no evidence upon which to doubt the accuracy" of kill figures supplied to him by the beagling organisations.

The Minister was responding to a Dail question from Tony Gregory, TD in April. Deputy Gregory asked if there was any independent verification available to support the data supplied by hunting groups.

Figures furnished to the National Parks and Wildlife Service division of Minister Roche's Department claim that 20 or more beagle hunts operating in 15 counties kill a total of just 2-3 hares during a controversial month long extension to their season.

The Minister bases his decision to grant the March licence to the hunters on these low figures.

And in replying to Tony Gregory, he confirmed that the figures come directly from the hunters with no official confirmation to their accuracy available.

"The figures are based on information provided by the Irish Masters of Beagles Association on foot of a requirement of their annual licence," the Minister stated. "As no prior capture of hares from their natural habitat is involved in beagling, this activity has not raised significant conservation concerns. My Department has no evidence upon which to doubt the accuracy of the figures supplied."

Beagling involves a pack of hounds chasing a hare in the open countryside. Hares are faster than the hounds, but the hounds are bred for stamina and can usually outrun their quarry. When they catch up with the unfortunate hare, they move in and kill as a pack. It can take minutes for hounds to tear a live hare apart.

During the main beagling season of September to February, packs hunt at least once a week - usually on Sundays - and also on major holidays such as St Stephen's Day and St Patrick's Day.

ICABS has appealed to Minister Roche to stop issuing a licence to beaglers to extend their killing season up to the end of March and to amend the Wildlife Act to give full protection to the species.

Tony Gregory, TD
Tony Gregory, TD: Questioned accuracy of beagle kill figures (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Rangers nail bird trapper

ICABS has praised the National Parks & Wildlife Service following a raid on the estate of Juan Zapata, near the Phoenix Park.

Wildlife rangers seized dozens of wild birds - illegally trapped in his garden - together with nets. Spaniard, Zapata, is the son-in-law of well known businessman, Michael O'Reilly, who owns Merlin Motors.

Zapata appeared before the district court in February 2006, pleaded guilty to the offence, and was ordered to pay €800 to the Dublin SPCA.

According to the NPWS, this case is only the tip of the iceberg and they have set up a special unit to crack down on the illegal trapping of, and trading in, wild birds. The birds are sold for high prices abroad.

If you have information or suspicions about illegal bird trapping and/or trading, please contact Jim Moore of the NPWS national unit on 01-8883243 or 087-2646430.

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Hounded deer lands on Dublin shop roof

A deer chased down the main street of a village in County Dublin jumped over a wall and on to a shop roof in a desperate bid to escape.

Details about the deer's ordeal were revealed in the Fingal Independent. The report outlined how the deer was being pursued by up to 60 mounted members of the Ward Union Hunt after being set free near Palmerstown.

Hunt chairperson, Oliver Russell, was quoted in the article as saying that the stag "jumped a wall but there was a drop in the ground the far side and he landed on a low roof."

"It's not unusual for a deer to end up on the road but it is unusual to end up on a roof," he said.

ICABS reported the incident to the Gardai in Garristown, County Dublin. In response, they said that "on the day in question, there were no complaints of cruelty made to the Gardai or ISPCA".

An appeal has been sent out to local councillors to support our efforts to convince Environment Minister, Dick Roche, to stop licensing the Ward Union.

Deer being chased across field by hounds
A deer desperately tries to stay ahead of the pack of hounds during a Ward Union hunt. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Shop with yellow and green facade
The Dublin shop, behind which the pursued deer is believed to have landed. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Hare mauled by Niall Quinn dog

A dog owned by former Irish international footballer, Niall Quinn, was pictured in the Irish Independent mauling a hare.

The sickening image showed his dog and another mauling the hare at the coursing finals in Clonmel in January.

Speaking from the coursing venue, Quinn was quoted in the Independent as saying: "I love coming here."

In a letter to the editor published in The Village magazine, ICABS spokesperson Aideen Yourell highlighted how hares which are injured during coursing are unlikely to survive.

Discontinued: exercising of hunt hounds in lough

Westmeath County Council has confirmed that the exercising of foxhounds in a local lake has been "discontinued".

ICABS contacted the Council after reading a July 2005 report in the Irish Field which stated that "[Westmeath Hunt] staff exercise the hounds early in the morning. This regularly ends with a swim in the lake, where huntsman James Lowry and whipper-in Noel Murphy give them the lead by wading out into the water."

In our correspondence to the Council, we highlighted how foxhounds are known to be potential carriers of parasites and disease. We pointed out that the lake in question - Lough Owel - is both the source of Mullingar's drinking water and a popular site for recreational users.

Responding, Michael Connolly of Westmeath County Council's Environment Section stated: "We have investigated the matter of hunt dogs swimming in Lough Owel. Our investigations revealed that the use of Lough Owel as outlined in the article extract was a relatively minor part of the dogs' daily exercise routine and has been discontinued."

Hunters on roads: Gay gets evidence

Road Safety Authority Chairman, Gay Byrne, has confirmed that the body will consider the implications of hunts coming on to public roads.

Responding to a letter from ICABS, the broadcasting legend 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."

To coincide with the formal establishment of the Road Safety Authority in September, ICABS sent video footage to Mr Byrne, showing numerous instances of hunts encroaching on to roads. We are calling for the elimination of this hazard by making roads off limits to hunts.

Our footage shows the true extent of the problem and includes scenes of 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 and hunters and hounds coming on to a road right in front of an approaching car.

We have asked the RSA to view the footage and prioritise moves to keep hunters off roads. We pointed out that if a motorist hits a hunt horse or swerves to avoid 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."

Mounted hunter and hounds on road in front of red car
They think they own the roads: A hunter blindly leads hounds on to a main road - directly into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Coursing support ceased: Red Mills

ICABS is delighted to report that the Connolly's Red Mills company has responded positively to one of our appeals and promised that its support for coursing events has now ended.

"We understand that the Red Mills company has been a sponsor of several coursing events over the years, most recently at the Tipperary and District coursing meeting in February 2006," we stated. "We hope that you can stop helping to keep this blood sport alive by providing financial support."

A company spokesperson responded: "Connolly's Red Mills has very strict policies against associating our brand with such sports and indeed invasive procedures on animals. On the contrary, our whole emphasis as a company is the proper welfare of animals, through providing excellent nutrition."

"It was never our intention to find ourselves directly or indirectly associated with such sports and I can confirm that all financial support for coursing events has ceased," he added. "We are examining all our marketing structures in order to ensure that the allocation of funds are not made available directly or - within the limits of our control - indirectly, to such sports."

ICABS has thanked the company for this positive response.

Two deer hounded to death during hunt

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has learned that two deer were hounded to their deaths by the Ward Union hunt during the 2004-05 season.

The deaths were recorded in a Department of Agriculture report obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act. A Department veterinary inspector highlighted in the report how one deer died from fractured ribs while another died from a ruptured aortic aneurism.

Meanwhile, a senior National Parks and Wildlife Service official has stated that he "strongly opposes" the licensing of the hunt.

Jim Moore, the NPWS Regional Manager in whose area the Ward Union operate, expressed his belief that since the deer used are not wildlife, a licence should not be issued under the Wildlife Act.

In a memo to NPWS HQ, Mr Moore stated: "I believe the Ward Union Hunt Club hunt deer that are not wild animals and as such are not the subject of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000."

He went on to outline that "there is a perception amongst certain NGOs that the NPWS is conveniently being used and is agreeing to license something which otherwise may be highly illegal...I urge you to consider carefully the implications of issuing this licence, the granting of which I strongly oppose."

Despite this, Dr Alan Craig, the then NPWS Director advising Minister Dick Roche, continued to assert that the Minister may grant a licence under the Wildlife Act to hunt these farm-bred deer, citing the fact that the word "wild" is not mentioned in Section 26 (which provides for licensing the hunting of deer with a pack of dogs).

In the Wildlife Act 2000 Amendment, however, a wild animal is clearly defined as "primarily living independent of human husbandry". The Ward Union deer are bred in captivity and are kept in paddock-type enclosures. They are maintained and fed, similar to farm animals.

ICABS believes that they are not wild animals. Indeed, the Ward Union themselves have admitted this. In a document submitted to the Heritage Council as part of a Wildlife Act review, the hunt stated: "As the WU deer are bred and maintained in a private enclosed deer park and looked after by a team of experts, they could not accurately be described as wildlife."

ICABS called for a Garda investigation into the hounding to death of the two deer last season. We contend that the Ward Union hunt is in breach of the 1911 Protection of Animals Act by terrorising and causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

ACTION ALERT

Please write to Minister Dick Roche and demand an end to carted deer hunting. Urge him to refuse further licences to the Ward Union.

Minister Dick Roche
Dept of the Environment, Custom House, Dublin 1.
Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640
Email: minister@environ.ie

Hounds and mounted hunters at entrance to field
Ward Union Hunt members lead the pack of hounds into a field in pursuit of a deer. ICABS contends that this hunt is illegal. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Close-up of deer's head
A deer with its antlers cut off waits in the Ward Union's cart. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Hares "badly mauled by dogs" found dead

Six hares were "badly mauled by dogs" at a coursing meeting in Tubbercurry last January, according to a National Parks & Wildlife Service ranger.

The ranger stated that the mauled hares were picked up and simply placed back into the coursing club's enclosure. Two of them were later found dead, with another hare dying on its way to Kilkenny. The ranger stated that there did not appear to be any veterinary involvement at the meeting.

He pointed out also that three hares were unaccounted for and called for the Licensing Section of the NPWS to question the club about this.

This meeting hosted the Ballymena coursing club which has been prohibited by Northern Ireland authorities from holding coursing meetings in that jurisdiction. A special protection order for hares in the North prevents coursers from capturing hares there.

Among the questions which ICABS has for the National Parks & Wildlife Service is: why were hares from the County Sligo club brought to Kilkenny?

A greyhound mauling a hare
A greyhound mauling a hare during a coursing meeting. Hares hit are likely to suffer serious, life-threatening internal injuries.

Hare's leg was 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 finally sent to ICABS in November 2006 in response to 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 and a rabbit within the coursing grounds being mauled by a greyhound.

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

Bullfighting ditched by Kerry firm

A Kerry company has been thanked for removing bullfighting references from a website aimed at tourists in Spain.

Gulliver Infores Services Ltd deleted the content from the alltravelspain.com site after ICABS highlighted the cruelty of bullfighting.

Greyhounds given drugs

Cocaine and Viagra are among the drugs being given to greyhounds to illegally boost their racing performances.

Fine Gael TD, Jim O'Keeffe (who is part owner of a greyhound) revealed in the Dail that "some handlers have a supply of cocaine in one pocket and bread soda in the other [to mask the drug], and that this potent cocktail is a common weapon in the doping armoury at greyhound tracks." Viagra is also used on the dogs, he said.

Terrier usage is "pure evil"

The use of terriers in hunting has been condemned by the Sunday Mirror as "pure evil" after injured dogs were found abandoned close to a suspected badger baiting location in Kilkenny.

Describing badger baiting as "pure savagery", the ISPCA's Noel O'Donoghue was quoted as saying: "The badger is a protected species and it is illegal to harm it...Even in the cases of foxes it is nothing but cruelty to force a fight to the death. Foxes are not protected...but they do not deserve to be mutilated either for the enjoyment of cruel hunters."

Terrierwork barbarity is integral to foxhunting in Ireland.

Coursing trips were a pleasure: Minister

Minister of State, Sean Power, has revealed that, as a boy, he "had the pleasure" of travelling around Ireland with a priest to racing and coursing meetings.

The Fianna Fail TD for Kildare South made the statement in June during a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006.

"I was a greyhound owner in the past and my family was involved down through the years in the industry," he proclaimed. "I was an altar boy to a priest who loved both horse and greyhound racing and I had the pleasure of travelling around the country to attend horse and greyhound race meetings and even the odd coursing meeting."

"I learned a great deal and my experience with this priest was joyous and educational," Mr Power reminisced. "I am grateful for the education I received about greyhounds and horses."

Reacting to the Minister's comments, Aideen Yourell of ICABS criticised members of the clergy with links to cruelty.

"Snatching timid, delicate creatures out of the wild in nets and using them as live lures before greyhounds is, without a doubt, in direct contravention of the Catholic Catechism," she said. "Worse still is the fact that a priest of the Catholic Church took an impressionable altar boy to coursing meetings to witness hares being terrorised and abused for 'sport'."

"The vast majority of Mr Power's constituents, and indeed the vast majority of the Irish electorate, are opposed to live hare coursing," she added. "It's high time for him and his party in government to respect the wishes of the electorate and outlaw live hare coursing and other blood sport activities."

McCririck condemns race horse whipping

Thumbs up to John McCririck, the flamboyant and outspoken racing pundit and former Celebrity Big Brother housemate.

Speaking on RTE's Tubridy Show on the eve of Cheltenham, he roundly condemned the use of the whip in horse racing and called on Ireland to "put a stop to this obscenity once and for all". His appeal was greeted with loud applause from the audience.

McCririck said: "I am totally opposed to the use of the whip. Why is it that only in racing can we beat animals in the name of sport? It is unacceptable. Racing will go on without the whip. Hitting these beautiful animals is unacceptable."

"We're trying to stop it [loud applause from audience]. But it is up to you at home, you in the audience, people in Ireland - the most horse loving nation on earth. It is up to you to put a stop to this obscenity once and for all. Racing can't continue with the beating of horses!"

Mr McCririck's opposition to race horse whipping has also been documented on the Channel 4 Racing website. In response to the question, "If you could change anything in racing, what would it be?", he replies: "Stop whipping animals in the name of sport."

John McCririck laughing
John McCririck: Urging end to hitting horses in racing

Welcome for Failte's anti-hunt move

In the Autumn-Winter 2005 edition of Animal Voice, 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.

Thanks very much to everybody who contacted Failte Ireland to ask them to completely exclude hunt information from their website.

Major thumbs up for draghunting on TG4

Draghunting, the humane alternative to foxhunting, was given a major thumbs up on TG4's An Tuath Nua programme in August.

Heralded as the future for blood sports groups, the activity was praised not only for being animal-friendly but also for its ability to guarantee participants "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 Ní Chíobháin of the South Leitrim Harriers Draghunt explained on An Tuath Nua 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:

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 Ms Ní Chíobháin 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."

Man on horseback pulling scent along ground
A scene from An Tuath Nua showing the draghunt scent being laid. To maintain a level of unpredictability, the route can be kept secret from the main group of horseback followers.

Draghounds in field with stone wall in background
Draghounds happily following the artificially laid scent.

Why is hare coursing still permitted here?

by Louise Gleeson

With the start of the hare coursing season the question has to be posed: "Should our government be doing the same as their UK counterparts and banning the so-called sport?"

Recent and past surveys have shown that the majority of the population, as much as 80 per cent, are opposed to the sport and the cruelty that it represents. Given that the number is so large it can be presumed that not all those opposed are city dwellers and that many in the countryside are opposed to the sport also.

The argument has been made that those that live in the city do not understand the dynamic and draw of the sport. That hunting and hare coursing are a tourist attraction and a tradition for people in this country and beyond.

This argument falls short of an understandable explanation. To kill something for sport and not necessity is not something that many people understand or tolerate in a modern context, and the ban on the sport in Scotland and the UK illustrates this.

Many politicians, as high up as our Taoiseach, have expressed their opposition to the sport so the question is why the sport is allowed to continue in this country when it is being banned in so many others. Bertie Ahern said of the sport: "I am totally opposed to hare coursing and I hope that...many more people reject hare coursing as a past-time, which can never justifiably be called a sport."

If the majority of the people in this country object to this sport and our leader has voiced his own opposition to the blood sport then why is it still legal in this country while all others are imposing bans?

There is no doubt that this industry does draw revenue and tourists to this country but to take advantage of a ban on this barbaric practice in other countries for our own financial gain is neither moral or right. Ireland is a country with many other tourist attractions and if the money spent on the sport was re-directed to marketing other tourist amenities then the loss to the country would be minimized.

We are among one of the last countries in Europe to not have a ban on hunting and all associated sports. One has to wonder how long this can remain.

Thanks to Louise Gleeson and Douglas Weekly for allowing us to reproduce this article.

Greyhound mauling hare
Ireland is one of the last remaining countries in the world to allow this terrible abuse of nature's most gentle of creatures.

Ireland faces fines for failing to protect natural habitats

The European Commission has warned that failure to protect endangered habitats and species, "will expose Ireland to the risk of substantial fines".

A Commission statement seen by ICABS reveals, incredibly, that Ireland has not yet fully met a 1995 deadline to complete a list of nature sites for an EU network.

Nor has the country taken sufficient measures to recover vegetation damaged by overstocking of sheep from the 1980s onwards.

"Correct implementation of EU environmental legislation is crucial to meet the EU's commitment to halting biodiversity loss in Europe by 2010," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas commented. "I am hopeful that the Irish authorities will now step up efforts."

In 2001, Ireland was condemned by the European Court of Justice for not respecting the deadline. According to the Commission, significant advances were made up to 2004 but since then "progress has stalled".

Undercover investigator on the trail of the deer hunters

An undercover investigation carried out on behalf of ICABS has once again exposed the plight of deer used in carted deer hunting.

The operation, conducted by Mike Huskisson of the UK's Animal Cruelty Investigation Group, succeeded in securing further evidence of the Ward Union's deplorable treatment of deer.

Monitoring the hunt in Counties Meath and Dublin, at meets throughout the entire season, Mike filmed several incidents showing how the deer desperately endeavour to outrun the hounds.

This valuable footage is being used by ICABS in our ongoing effort to get the Ward Union hunt banned.

Among the scenes filmed were:

During the 2005-06 season, three new conditions were imposed on the hunt as part of the Department of the Environment's licensing of the activity. These "rules" relate to the capture of the deer at the end of the hunt (please see Page 4 for related article).

Among the goals of Mike Huskisson was to monitor the implementation of the new conditions. His conclusion, as predicted, is that these conditions are largely unworkable.

"By the time we completed the project we were able to prove the expected - that on occasion hunting at the Ward Union staghounds has changed very little," Mr Huskisson stated. "Yes, hunt staff appear to be trying to conform to the new conditions in their licence but deer will be deer and dogs will be dogs and it is not always easy for the hunt staff to be close to their charges to control them."

He added: "It can all go wrong and when it does the deer can end up cornered, looking straight at the dogs with no-one on hand able to get the dogs away."

Also emphasised in his report is that, regardless of any conditions, the deer can never know that the intention is to call off the pack of hounds at the end of the hunt.

That the fleeing animal is effectively running for its life for the duration of the hunt is what makes carted deer hunting so utterly cruel and unacceptable.

ICABS thanks Mike for the enormous amount of work he put into this successful operation and we look forward to collaborating with him again in the future.

Deer in trailer with hunt follower looking in through side
Keeping an eye on the quarry: a hunt follower peers into the hunt's deer cart prior to the start of the chase.

The pack of hunt hounds chasing the frightened deer into a field of horses.

Halted deer beyond a fence with hounds running towards it
Howling hounds surround the depleted deer during a Ward Union hunt.

A deer is released from the hunt's cart at the start of the hunt before hunters and hounds begin the chase. All images were captured by Mike Huskisson during the 2005-2006 season.

You have my support: Benjamin Zephaniah

Novelist and poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, has signed a "Ban Blood Sports in Ireland" petition and expressed his support for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports campaign against animal cruelty.

In a recent letter to ICABS, the popular writer outlined that he was "aware that people have started travelling over to Ireland to do their killing", now that hunting is banned in the UK.

"You can certainly count me as one of your supporters," he said.

ICABS is delighted to have the support of Benjamin Zephaniah in our campaign to secure a ban on foxhunting, hare coursing, carted deer hunting and all forms of hunting animals with packs of dogs.

Mr Zephaniah is the author of eleven books (novels and poetry), including Too Black, Too Strong, Gangsta Rap, Funky Chickens and Refugee Boy. He has also recorded several albums featuring his poetry performed over music.

In 2003, he famously rejected an OBE (Officer of the Order of British Empire) from the Queen. Quoted in The Guardian, he stated: "I get angry when I hear that word 'empire'; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised. Benjamin Zephaniah OBE - no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire."

For more information on Benjamin Zephaniah, please visit his official website at: www.benjaminzephaniah.com.

Nelson Mandela and Benjamin Zephaniah shaking hands
Benjamin Zephaniah with Nelson Mandela. Benjamin has recently expressed his support for the ICABS campaign.

Partial ceasefire for animals, says army

ICABS has welcomed the news that if animals stray on to the Irish Army's shooting range, a ceasefire is immediately called.

The wildlife-friendly policy was revealed by Captain Fergal Costello of the Irish Defence Forces. Responding to an ICABS enquiry about wildlife protection on Department of Defence lands, Capt Costello stated: "The ranges in the Glen of Imaal are cleared prior to firing. The range officer observes the range area throughout the shoot for animal movements and calls a halt to firing if any animals encroach on to the range area."

Disappointingly, however, not all animals can live a life free from the threat of gunfire on Department land. ICABS has learned that two army game clubs exist which are free to kill birds.

According to Property Management spokesperson, Tony O'Reilly, the clubs hold shooting rights over state lands in Roscommon and Wicklow.

"The licences granted to the game clubs also provide for the rearing and preserving of game birds on the lands in question by the clubs," he outlined, adding that "this matter is being kept under review and in this regard, the ICABS suggestion regarding these lands being made a haven for wildlife has been noted."

Environment Minister, Dick Roche, has been asked to protect all wildlife on the Department of Defence's 8,500 hectares.

Leverets live online

Visitors to the Irish Hare Initiative website in June were treated to a rare close-up of leverets.

A new webcam set up by the group conveyed live footage of the rescued youngsters from a purpose-built facility in County Tyrone.

Orphaned and injured leverets are brought to the Glenlark Nature Reserve centre from all over Ireland for rearing, rehabilitation and release. Live web feeds or recorded highlights can be viewed by visiting www.irishhare.org and clicking on the hare webcam link.

The following advice is being offered to anyone who spots an apparently orphaned leveret:

"Young hares are often left alone by their mothers, who return at night to feed them. It is normal for a leveret to be left in a hedgerow, long grass or vegetation.

"Their instinct is to stay still and not move, which leads people to (wrongly) believe that they are orphaned, sick or injured. Leverets like this should not be at risk unless there is immediate cause for concern or an imminent threat."

If the hare is genuinely orphaned or injured, it will require urgent specialist attention. For more information, please visit the Irish Hare Initiative website and click on "Orphans and casualties". Alternatively, phone the Hareline on 048-8164 7081.

A leveret being fed by hand at the Irish Hare Initiative rescue centre in County Tyrone. As hares are so timid, contact with humans is kept to an absolute minimum during rehabilitation. (Photo: Mike Rendle)

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 in Raharney near Killucan, was reported to the NPWS by ICABS after a 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 several 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.

No rangers in blood sport black spots

There are less than 70 National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers covering the 26 counties and some of these are confined to desk duties, ICABS has learned.

According to an article in the Irish Independent in May, the number of rangers was put at around 90 but we have since discovered that the picture is even bleaker.

A listing on the NPWS website shows that out of a total of just 78 ranger positions, only 68 are filled. Among the ten vacancies are for rangers in blood sport black spots like Kildare, Meath and Tipperary.

The rangers are backed up by just nine "covering officers", according to the national list.

An Environment Department spokesperson told the Independent that the unfilled NPWS positions are due to a ban on public sector recruitment.

"There is a difficulty with numbers because of the government embargo," he said. "There is the same number of rangers as 2002, but less on the ground."

ICABS has called on Minister Dick Roche to ensure that all ranger positions are filled and that new positions are urgently created to help protect our wildlife and habitats. We have suggested that a ban on hare coursing would free up rangers' time and resources; rangers could devote time to protecting the hare species instead of monitoring coursing meetings.

"Rock relics" perform for hunt group

Eric Clapton and Bryan Ferry were among the musicians who appeared at a controversial concert to raise cash for a pro-hunting group.

Held on the grounds of an English castle, the Countryside Alliance fund-raiser also saw performances from Georgie Fame, Andy Fairweather Low, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, Paul Carrack of Mike and the Mechanics, Genesis guitarist, Mike Rutherford, and Procol Harum founder, Gary Brooker.

Commented Animal Aid's Fiona Pereira: "Just as they are rock relics from another age, so killing animals for pleasure belongs to the Dark Ages - a fact that most people can appreciate. The only punters willing to lash out 75 quid to watch a load of misguided old fools shuffling around on stage, are, well, misguided fools."

According to the Newbury Weekly News, those who showed up at the event had to endure "dismal weather"!

Farmer fires over festive foxhunters

A farmer who found hounds heading towards his horses fired a shotgun into the air during a St Stephen's Day hunt.

Described in the Kilkenny Voice newspaper, the incident reportedly involved Mick Farrell of Pleberstown, Thomastown and a Kilkenny foxhunt.

"These people won't leave me alone," he was quoted as saying. "I have asked them time and time again to stay away."

"My lands are preserved and people in the hunt know that," he added. "I have put up signs stating that fox hunting is prohibited but they have been torn down and flung away. I am at my wits end."

Mr Farrell told the Kilkenny Voice that, over the years, several of his animals have been seriously injured when hunts crossed his land. He said that some of these animals had to be put down and that he never received compensation for the losses.

During the incident last Christmas, he admitted firing the shots from a ditch on his land but maintained that animals and hunt riders were well away from him at the time.

"I had only two seconds to make a decision," he recalled. "I could either fire the shots and save my horses or allow my animals to be panicked. I have no intention of hurting anyone but I had no choice but to protect the horses that are my living."

After the shots were fired, the hunters called off their dogs but, said Mr Farrell, some of the animals were still in the vicinity over an hour later.

He added: "My telephone number is with Thomastown Gardai and I will meet the superintendent at his convenience. I will be lodging a complaint against the intruders. I'll see this through to the bitter end. I have had enough."

Thank you to politicians

ICABS thanks all the politicians who have helped us with the campaign over the past year.

TDs, Senators, MEPs and Councillors (independents and from all the political parties) have joined us in our bid to persuade the government to rid Ireland of blood sport cruelty.

We look forward to their continued support in the future.

Green TD calls for hare coursing ban

The Green Party's Sports and Tourism spokesperson has called for a complete ban on hare coursing.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty, the party's TD for Dublin Mid-West, said: "The greyhound industry is covered in a cloud of cruelty and is in urgent need of reform."

In a statement issued in June, Mr Gogarty condemned the cruelty inherent in coursing.

"Hare coursing involves cruelty to both hares and dogs and this has to stop," he stated. "I am not anti-greyhound racing, but an industry that knowingly engages in animal cruelty for profit is not one that should be allowed operate in such a fashion."

Citing statistics which show that a huge majority of rural and urban dwellers want the blood sport banned, Mr Gogarty queried the government's reluctance to act.

"Perhaps this is because many of our elites own greyhounds, including politicians from several parties," he remarked. "A considerable number of TDs [have] admitted to owning a greyhound, making it hard for many to take a balanced view of the industry."

"Do these parliamentary colleagues condone the stress caused to hares that are captured for up to six weeks? Do they condone the deaths from stress and maulings that still occur, even with muzzles on the greyhounds? What about the illegal bloodings that still go on and the putting down of greyhounds that have outlived their economic usefulness? Is there not an element of hypocrisy involved?"

Deputy Gogarty stressed the availability of a humane alternative to hare coursing. This could, and should, replace the use of hares, he said.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty
Coursing is cruel and has to stop: Green Party TD, Paul Nicholas Gogarty

IFA "selling out": anti-hunt farm group

The Irish Farmers Association has been accused of "selling out" by inviting foxhunters to join its IFA Countryside scheme. Strongly criticising the move, Philip Lynch, chairman of Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass, remarked: "it appears that all the principles of the IFA are up for sale."

The IFA Countryside website acknowledges that the countryside is "a great national resource which Irish farmers work hard to maintain and enhance" but adds that the scheme is open to those with "an interest in...Irish field sport activities".

Quoted in the Irish Independent of May 22nd, Mr Lynch stated: "It's a crying shame that [the IFA] is about to make hunters, who are nothing but vandals, members of the organisation. With IFA Countryside, they are bringing in people who are not even farmers."

He went on to emphasise that farmers trying to protect their lands and livestock from trespassing hunters are relying on the IFA to help them.

The article revealed that several cases are now before the courts involving farmers seeking compensation from hunters for alleged crop damage.

ICABS views the invitation to blood sports enthusiasts to join IFA Countryside as being incompatible with the aims of the IFA which was established "to present a coherent national voice for all Irish farmers on all issues affecting their livelihoods".

Every hunting season, farmers are plagued by hunts coming on to their land and threatening their livelihoods. Among the complaints are damage to boundary fences and pastures, the disturbance of livestock and pets, the spread of disease and abusive and threatening behaviour from hunters when told to stay off private land.

I have no plans to ban coursing: O'Donoghue

Despite being aware that coursing is opposed by 80 per cent of Irish citizens, Arts and Tourism Minister, John O'Donoghue, has announced that he has no plans to ban the cruel activity.

Responding to a letter sent by ICABS to Bertie Ahern, the Minister ruled out an end to the blood sport which sees thousands of hares snatched from the wild annually and forced to run for their lives.

"I do not have any plans at present to introduce a ban on coursing," Minister O'Donoghue stated in the August letter, "but I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that coursing is run in a well-controlled and responsible manner in the interest of animal welfare, both for hares and greyhounds alike."

Considering that coursing is an intrinsically cruel activity, ICABS finds the idea that it is, or could ever be, carried out in an animal welfare-friendly fashion to be absolutely absurd. As long as hares are used in coursing, there is no possibility of it being compatible with acceptable animal welfare standards.

Minister O'Donoghue's response is particularly disappointing as he has been made fully aware of a perfectly viable and humane alternative to coursing. In drag coursing, the dogs chase an inanimate object dragged rapidly along the ground.

ACTION ALERT

Please contact Minister O'Donoghue and urge him to ban hare coursing in Ireland.

Minister John O'Donoghue
Dept of Arts, Sport & Tourism
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Email: ministersoffice@dast.gov.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1 631 3802
Fax: +353 (0)1 678 5906

Please send a copy of your correspondence to:

Bertie Ahern, An Taoiseach
Department of the Taoiseach
Government Buildings
Merrion Street, Dublin 2.
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.irlgov.ie
Tel: + 353 (0)1 678 9791

Please also send a copy to your local Dail and Seanad representative(s) at Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000.

Minister John O'Donoghue
Minister John O'Donoghue: Disregarding the majority opposition to hare coursing

Stay away from coursing finals: appeal to minister

ICABS appealed to Minister John O'Donoghue to stay away from the February 2006 coursing finals in Clonmel.

The appeal came following an article in the Irish Independent which described the Fianna Fail TD as a coursing fan and revealed that he was due to attend the controversial event.

In our letter, ICABS stated: "On behalf of the vast majority of citizens who want coursing outlawed, we appeal to you to refrain from attending this meeting and to instead give your support to efforts aimed at safeguarding the future of the hare, one of Ireland's oldest and favourite species."

"We remind you that hare coursing is opposed by most Irish people," we added. "It is now illegal in the UK and has also been stopped in Northern Ireland in response to the All-Ireland Species Action Plan which has identified the hare as being a species of highest conservation concern."

The Minister did not reply.

No link to hunt, insists charity

Enable Ireland has assured ICABS that they are not connected to hunting.

The charity was responding to a Kilkenny Voice article from November 2005 which referred to a race night being organised by the "Kilkenny Farmers Hunt in association with Enable Ireland (The O'Neill Centre)".

ICABS urged the charity to act to prevent its good name from being associated with hunters. A spokesperson confirmed that "Enable Ireland Kilkenny has no direct links or association with the Kilkenny Farmers Hunt."

Tourism body reminded of hunt cruelty

A tourism body publicising hunting has been reminded that blood sports result in horrendous animal suffering.

East Coast and Midlands Tourism (ECMT) has been asked to stop including hunting in promotional material.

In its "Equestrian Holidays" booklet, several references to hunting appear, including a listing for a country club which says it can arrange hunt outings for visitors. Elsewhere, a riding centre lists hunting as its specialty.

As part of our appeal, ICABS sent ECMT a selection of graphic photos and urged them to consider the reality of hunting.

"We are sure that East Coast and Midlands Tourism would not want to play any part in publicising these cruel activities," we stated. "We appeal to you to please exclude references to hunting from future publications."

We have also pointed out that as they are a regional representative of Failte Ireland, they should be abiding by the latter's policy of not promoting hunting in Ireland.

UPDATE: For an update on this story, please see:
Hunt literature removed from midlands tourist offices

Rescued orphan

Close-up of fox yawning
This dramatic photo shows an orphaned fox cub which was rescued in County Meath and transferred to a sanctuary in Carrick-on-Shannon. Photographer Paul Croke snapped the yawning youngster as it awaited release back to the wild. (Photo: Paul Croke)

Gone to the races: 37% of government sports funds

Green Party TD, Paul Gogarty, has challenged the government on its funding of the dog and horse racing industries.

In a media statement issued in June, Mr Gogarty said he was "appalled that 37 per cent of all government funding on sport goes to the horse and greyhound racing industry".

Although conceding that it is a social outlet for some people, the Dublin Mid West Deputy disputed its "sport" status. He remarked: "It does not make people fitter and healthier from a physical or spiritual point of view."

"It is a sickening statistic considering there are clubs around the country crying out for funding - clubs that involve people in active participation in sport," Mr Gogarty commented. "It is these clubs that should be the priorities for Government; not profitable industries that have more to do with gambling than exercise."

International demo against coursing

An anti-coursing demonstration organised by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports was supported by groups from Ireland, the UK and Germany.

The January protest was held to draw attention to the presence of coursers from the UK at a meeting in County Kilkenny.

With the blood sport banned in England, Scotland and Wales, the coursers were in Ireland to compete in a contest specially set up to accommodate them.

ICABS spokesperson Aideen Yourell stated: "We want to signal to these people that they are not welcome here to abuse our hares and also to convey to our legislators that it's now time to outlaw coursing here."

Thank you to all who travelled to Kilkenny to support our protest.

Protesters holding up placards
Some of the campaigners who joined ICABS for a peaceful protest against hare coursing. The demonstration received extensive media coverage and helped highlight the cruelty of coursing. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

No more bull, promises car rental firm

ICABS has thanked a car rental firm for responding positively to an anti-bullfight appeal.

After spotting references to Spanish and Mexican bullfighting on the company's website - carrentals.co.uk - ICABS highlighted the cruelty of the blood sport and asked if they could be removed.

A company spokesperson responded as follows: "We agree with you and Carrentals.co.uk would not like to be seen to be supporting or promoting such activities. We will take steps to remove the text."

Harrier hunting horror haunts Dublin driver

The following distressing account was supplied to ICABS by a Dubliner who witnessed a hare being killed by a harrier hunt last season...

"Driving up a country road near a village in County Dublin, a 4-wheel-drive was stopped in front of me with two men standing alongside it. I pulled in thinking perhaps that there was some accident.

"Just then, a hare came running down the road. I didn't realise what was happening for a moment until a pack of hounds appeared from round the corner. I got out of the car to try and do something but the hounds had caught up with the hare and totally demolished it. All that was left was a tiny piece of fur blowing in the breeze.

"The two men were carrying thick sticks. I assume they were employees of the hunt. I think they were probably trying to beat the hare into a ditch. The brutality of it was horrid to see and haunted me for weeks.

"Driving away, I saw the horses and riders arriving on the scene. I asked one of the hunters if he was proud of his morning's work. 'Oh yes, we are, Madam,'" he replied

ICABS has brought this to the attention of Minister Dick Roche who licenses harrier hunting.

MEP De Rossa pressing for ban on cat & dog fur

The European Commission has confirmed to Irish MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, that Ireland has no legislation banning the trade in cat and dog fur.

Replying to a series of questions from the Labour Party MEP, a Commission spokesperson stated in August: "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."

The political will to tackle this problem exists, the Commission maintain, saying that they are "in the process of examining the possibilities for action at Community level".

Millions of dogs and cats are cruelly killed for their fur every year. The fur is mainly used for trims on coats, gloves, hats and toys. Fur-covered animal figurines have also been found to contain dog and cat fur.

In an effort to make these items marketable, the fur industry uses misleading labels including gae-wolf, goupee, Asian wolf, China wolf, Mongolia dog fur, Sobaki, Pommern wolf, dogue de Chine, loup d'Asie, rabbit, maopee, goyangi, katzenfelle, natuerliches mittel, chat de Chine and gatto cinesi. Please avoid buying any item which contains fur.

European Commission proposes EU ban on cat and dog fur. For more on this exciting new development, click on "Latest News" at banbloodsports.com

Proinsias De Rossa, MEP
Proinsias De Rossa, MEP: working to end fur trade.

TD compares bullfighting to GAA sports

A Donegal politician has made a bizarre comparison between one of the world's most abhorrent blood sports and genuine sporting pursuits like football and hurling.

Cecilia Keaveney, TD stated: "Research from Jordanstown university reveals that with the GAA (Gaelic football, hurling, etc) being a family-friendly sport, drug-free and amateur, it could be the greatest catalyst to attract tourists to Ireland, equivalent to the phenomenon of bullfighting in Spain or that of sumo wrestling in Japan in that it is unique."

The Fianna Fail TD for Donegal North East made the comments during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs last September.

ICABS has written to Deputy Keaveney to complain about the comparison. "GAA sports participants and Japan's sumo wrestlers would, we suspect, object to being compared to those who torture and kill animals for entertainment," we stated.

Also pointed out was the fact that most Spaniards are now opposed to bullfighting and don't want bullfighting to be representative of their country.

In response, Deputy Keaveney wrote: "Bullfighting is synonymous with Spain whether we like it or not. It is (and I have Spanish in-laws) factual."

Asked if she was opposed to bullfighting, she remarked: "I am not aware that bullfighting has been an issue in Donegal North East either recently or in past memory."

ICABS has sent Ms Keaveney a video showing horrific scenes of cruelty in a bullring.

Badger is rescued from deadly snare

A badger was given back his freedom after a compassionate Cork resident found the creature struggling in a Department of Agriculture snare.

ICABS was told that the badger managed to scurry back into his nearby sett but that strong fears remained for his safety.

"I destroyed the snare with a bolt cutters," the rescuer stated, "but the man from the Department replaced it."

Tens of thousands of badgers have been killed in Department snares to date as part of a failed TB Eradication Scheme.

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!".

Inside, an article declared 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 went on to give tips to those planning to take part in the run. An experienced bullrun participant quoted in the article advised people who fall to "stay down and lie very still".

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 continued. "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.

ACTION ALERT

Please join us in our call to Ryanair to stop publicising events which involve 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

Michael O'Leary
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary: Refusing to keep bullfight info out of flight magazine

Pamplona man left paralysed

A man was left with paralysed legs after being hit during Pamplona's bullrun festival.

The Associated Press reported that Bank of America employee, Ray Ducharme, "was injured in what is known as a vaquilla, in which hundreds of people chase five cows around the bull ring, pulling their ears and tail".

Ducharme underwent an operation to re-attach two vertebrae. A Pamplona spokesperson said: "He is paralysed in the legs, and will have partial use of his arms. He is in very serious condition."

Seven other injuries were reported during the bullrun itself. One man was gored in the thigh while another was trampled on.

Greyhound appeal to ex-Miss World

Former Miss World, Rosanna Davidson, has been criticised for her connection to the greyhound industry.

The Animal Rights Action Network has written to the model condemning a photo which appears on the Irish Greyhound Board website showing her next to two greyhounds.

ARAN spokesperson, John Carmody commented: "We feel that if Rosanna does work for animal welfare then she should recognize that greyhound racing is a terrible animal welfare nightmare and that these poor dogs should never be used for racing. She should turn her back on the greyhound racing industry and those that promote it."

Ms Davidson has associated with the Irish Greyhound Board despite being a high profile supporter of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

According to the ISPCA, "approximately 14,000 greyhounds are 'disposed of' in Ireland each year."

"They are destroyed because they haven't made the grade as racing dogs or when they are past their best for racing (usually by the age of four)," they outline on their website. "Other unwanted dogs are sold to Spain, where they are forced to race in appalling conditions, with no veterinary care and no prospect of an end to their suffering until they are too badly injured to continue."

Catch wildlife criminals with CCTV cams

ICABS has called for the installation of surveillance cameras at a Dublin park where greyhounds were blooded in broad daylight.

An eyewitness who contacted ICABS described the horror of seeing a hare being taken out of a sack and fed live to the dogs.

Blooding - the feeding of hares, rabbits and kittens to greyhounds in an effort to psyche them up prior to racing and coursing meetings - is illegal in Ireland but is believed to be widespread in the industry.

It's the second reported case of animals being targeted in the Clondalkin park and the second time ICABS has urged South Dublin County Council to act.

Cllr Robert Dowds, who joined us in our appeal, was told by the Senior Parks Superintendent that: "We will examine the possible use of CCTV in the search for a means of trying to resolve the issue of St. Cuthbert's Park being used for anti-social and criminal activities."

Running for the animals

Many thanks to ICABS supporter, Vicki, who took part in this year's women's mini-marathon in Dublin.

Vicki, from Wicklow, completed the 10km course and raised an impressive 200 Euro for our campaign.

The 25th anniversary of the mini marathon is set to take place on bank holiday, June 4th, 2007.

Please consider taking part and helping to raise vital funds for ICABS. Thank you.

ICABS DVD exposes blood sport cruelty

The tranquillity of the Irish countryside is shattered as a fox squeals out in agony. It's the end to yet another hunt outing and the wide-eyed victim's suffering is intensifying. There's a terrier biting into his scalp and terriermen are mercilessly pulling him from the ground.

This is just one of several searing scenes on a new DVD produced this year by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. To coincide with our 40th year of working for animals, we have created what hopefully will mark a turning point for the campaign.

Currently being distributed to the country's politicians, the "Blood Sports in Ireland" DVD shows explicitly the reality of animal abuse here. Foxes torn apart by hounds, hares battered into the ground by greyhounds, bloodied deer chased to exhaustion by hunters and hounds.

We hope that, after seeing the evidence, our legislators will finally commit to banning these cruel activities.

To demonstrate the ease with which cruelty can be replaced with compassion, our campaign disc also includes drag hunting and drag coursing presentations. We are confident that those who witness these humane alternatives in action will agree that there is really no excuse for allowing blood sports to continue.

With a few draghunts already operating in Ireland (and some animal hunts using draghunting techniques to exercise their hounds), it is apparent that, with the political will, the transition will be easy to arrange.

Also on the DVD are features exposing the problem of hunts coming on to public roads, the issue of hunt trespass, earthblocking and the truth about foxes and predation.

The animal cruelty activities covered are foxhunting, hare coursing, carted deer hunting, mink hunting, cock fighting and bullfighting. And for those who wish to get a closer look at Irish wildlife, there are video montages of foxes, hares, badgers and pine martens.

This important educational tool was produced entirely in-house by ICABS during the first half of 2006 and we are very pleased with the finished product.

As well as distributing it to TDs, Senators and MEPs, we will also make it available to secondary schools, universities, libraries, the media, animal welfare groups and individuals who wish to help highlight the cruelty of blood sports. Over the coming months, we plan to make it possible to view the content over the internet so that the whole world can see what the Irish Government must now legislate against. Please keep an eye on the ICABS website for news about this.

To help cover the costs of copying and posting the DVDs, we appeal to you to consider including a donation with your annual subscription. Every disc sent out will help to make even more people aware of the barbarity of blood sports and strengthen our campaigning voice in the future.

Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy of the "Blood Sports in Ireland" DVD.

Cover of ICABS DVD showing suffering fox in agony
The new ICABS campaign DVD

Bikers beware - dangerous hunt roadblocks ahead

Six times more likely to be killed, motorcyclists are listed by the National Safety Council as being among the most vulnerable on Irish roads.

A biker from Cork has revealed to ICABS how he nearly became another victim when a pack of foxhounds came spilling out on to a main road. What follows is his account of what happened:

"I went out for a spin on 2nd January 2006 on my Yamaha FJR 1300cc motorbike in the East Cork direction, heading for Ardmore and taking the coast road to Dungarvan. I was driving along at the permitted speed of 80kph when, out of nowhere, 25ft in front of my bike, a pack of hounds came out of a farm gate and across the road into another gate. Well, I locked on my brakes and smoked up my back tyre and went into the pack of hounds, glancing off two of them. My bike came to a stop inches away from the concrete gate pillar.

"Had I been going that little bit faster, I would have suffered a very serious injury at the least, hitting the concrete pillar. Well, I was shaking with fright and my instant reaction was to look for the master of the hunt for an explanation. Unfortunately, though, bikes don't jump ditches, so after a minute composing myself, I went on my way, still shaking with fright.

"The government are quite prepared to add motorcycle deaths to their list, but they never say what caused the accident, when it is a known fact, that in the majority of cases, they are caused by a third party. I hope my letter will be highlighted by you, and it may possibly save another motorcyclist from serious injury or death."

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has passed a copy of this alarming incident on to the Cork Gardai, the National Safety Council, the Road Safety Authority, the Minister for Transport and the Road Safety Officer of Cork County Council and urged them to take immediate action to keep hunts off roads.

We are now renewing our call on motorists around the country 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 www.garda.ie.

Motorcyclists travelling along road
Bikers: particularly vulnerable to dangers of hunts on roads

Dept snarers described as blackguards

Badger snarers employed by the Department of Agriculture as part of a so-called TB Eradication Scheme have been described as "blackguards" in the Sunday Independent.

Popular Country Matters columnist, Joe Kennedy, outlined how badgers "endure unknown suffering before being despatched by gunshot".

ICABS applauds Mr Kennedy for highlighting the cruelty of this discredited scheme.

We concur with his view on the protected status of Irish badgers as being "something of a joke".

NI majority opposed to fox & deer hunts

A huge majority of Northern Ireland residents believe that foxhunting and stag hunting are cruel, according to the latest opinion poll.

Published in March 2006, the Millward Brown poll results also showed that most agree with the North's decision to refuse permission to coursing clubs to capture hares for their blood sport.

Asked if foxhunting is cruel, 79 per cent of those polled said yes. Just 11 per cent thought it wasn't cruel. The poll also revealed that a massive 84 per cent of Northerners think stag hunting is cruel, compared to 6 per cent who don't.

Welcoming the results of the poll, the League Against Cruel Sports in Northern Ireland observed that: "There was consistency from both urban and rural respondents, exploding the myth that there is a wide gulf between the town and the countryside."

Another ambulance delayed during hunt

ICABS has again urged the Gardai to act to keep hunts off public roads.

The call comes following an incident involving an ambulance being forced to slow down during a hunt. It's the second recorded instance of emergency vehicles being affected by hunt-related traffic in County Meath.

In the last edition of Animal Voice, we reported on an ambulance which was brought to a halt during a deer hunt. Now we can reveal that yet another has been caught up in the chaos caused when hunts encroach on to the road network.

Jeeps and horseboxes parked on a road were to blame on this occasion. We have forwarded photos to Garda HQ and pointed out that the ambulance's lights were flashing as it inched along.

ICABS dreads to consider the implications of these delays for patient care. The Health Service Executive has been urged to join us in complaining to the Gardai.

An ambulance with its lights flashing is forced to slow down during a hunt meeting in Meath. Jeeps and horseboxes parked on the side of a road were to blame for impeding traffic. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Heritage Council grant facilitates killing of rabbits

The Heritage Council has approved a grant for a project which involves the trapping and killing of rabbits, ICABS has learned.

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

ICABS is saddened that the project on Lambay will lead to the death 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.

Deli firm had ad in coursing card

A company which supplies meat and dairy products to Ireland's major supermarket chains had an advert in the events card for the 2006 Clonmel coursing meeting.

According to their website, Horgan's Delicatessen Supplies Ltd is a supplier to Tesco, Dunnes, Superquinn, Marks & Spencer, SuperValu, Centra, Spar, Londis, Mace and Aer Lingus.

Defending the ad, Managing Director, Michael Horgan, told an ICABS supporter: "One is entitled to pursue and support any sporting activity, which does not contravene the laws of the country."

Hotel to reconsider ad after complaint

Sligo's Markree Castle is to consider a complaint from an ICABS supporter.

The complaint was lodged after an ad for the venue listed bird shooting as one of the attractions. The castle's website also states that "deer stalking is available in season on the estate."

"We will consider your comments in relation to future advertising," castle owner Charles Cooper responded.

Foxhunting - cruel and a scourge to farmers

Agricultural Correspondent and ICABS Director, Dick Power, looks back on a history of foxhunting which has seen both foxes and farmers suffering.

Foxhunting - a legacy from those 18th Century English squires who, in search of more speed and excitement, found in the fox (then a scarce creature) a more adventurous quarry than the hare.

Denounced as "the cricket of savages" by agriculturist Arthur Young (1741-1820), it was brought into Ireland by whom Lecky called "the class of squireens and middlemen who kept packs of half-starved hounds and were the chief agents of agrarian tyranny".

At vast expense, coverts were planted, artificial earths constructed and foxes were imported.

"They meant to run him until his blood/Clogged his back bent up and his tongue hung flagging/And his belly and brush were filthed from dragging/Till he crouched stone still, dead-beat and dirty/With nothing but teeth against the thirty."

Those lines from John Masefield's verse-narrative, "Reynard The Fox", describe the horror of the hunt. Many will have heard about foxes which, upon finding an unstopped earth, put an end to the chase but provide the hunters with a chance to dig the creature out and throw him to the pack.

Hunted foxes, trying to throw hounds off scent, deliberately run through sheep flocks, herds of bovines and into fields covered in highly infectious slurry.

In March 1970, the Irish Times had a lengthy article, entitled "The Havoc of the Hunt" in which the author catalogued the hunt's cruelty to farmers, and the sneaky ways in which hunts people try to retaliate against farmers who ban them from hunting on their farms.

Listed were broken fences, scattered livestock and the grave damage to pastures by "poaching" (hoof-prints).

Another major threat posed to farm livelihoods - back then and now - is that foxhounds can host two difficult and dangerous parasites.

In 1996, the Irish Farmers' Journal, reporting on Sarcocystosis, an incurable brain disease of livestock, stated that severe problems in particular flocks investigated by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine were associated with contamination of grazings by faeces from foxhounds.

From Black's Veterinary Dictionary, we learn that hoof-prints not only destroy pastures but are the favourite habitats of mud snails.

They may sound innocuous enough but they're actually the hosts of liver fluke, a parasite causing losses estimated at 60 million euro annually to Irish farmers.

What further proof do we need that foxhunting with hounds is not only a cruel and barbaric legacy from the 18th century, but a modern day scourge, posing a huge threat to the livelihoods of Irish farmers?

Dick Power holding up the remains of a fox which was torn in half by hunt hounds.

Farmers will only ever accept drag hunting

Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass (FAFT) have re-iterated that the only form of hunting their members will accept is drag hunting.

"Foxhunters must adapt and change their arrogant ways," chairman, Philip Lynch, emphasised in a recent statement. "Drag hunting is the way forward. There is no room for fox hunting in modern agriculture. FAFT is simply asking these rampaging horse-borne relics of another age to leave us alone."

Pointing to the tourism potential of drag hunting, Mr Lynch suggested that it is an activity the horse industry should be enthusiastically embracing.

"Tourists could be invited to visit Ireland to drag hunt on properly supervised enclosed tracts of land - for example, on famous courses like the ones at the Curragh, Leopardstown or Gowran Race Course," he remarked. "This would remove the existing problem where farmland, livestock and farm property are vandalised on a daily basis throughout the winter months, leaving farmers to face massive financial losses."

The FAFT group can be contacted on 056-7725309.

Padraic Pearse "totally opposed" to coursing

As the country remembered the heroes of 1916 last April, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called on Bertie Ahern to introduce legislation outlawing coursing.

This, we told the Taoiseach, would be a fitting tribute to Padraic Pearse, whose ideals he is said to admire.

We sent Mr Ahern a copy of a letter written by Padraic Pearse's sister, Senator Margaret Pearse, to actor and ICABS founder member, John Cowley (who played Tom Riordan in the long running soap, "The Riordans"). In her letter, written from a nursing home in 1967, Senator Pearse outlined how her brothers, Padraic and Willie, were kind to animals and would have been opposed to hare coursing.

Senator Pearse had felt so strongly about coursing that she took the time and trouble, then aged 89, to write a letter to the national media, condemning the blood sport.

She told John Cowley: "In my letter to the press, I invoked the names of Padraic and Willie and I was absolutely correct in affirming that they would both have been totally opposed to the inhuman treatment meted out to the innocent little hares at the coursing matches.

"At all times during their lives, they were kind to dumb animals and Padraic's writings give many instances of his love for animals and birds, and I am certain that, were they alive today, they would both be foremost in condemning coursing for the sadistic spectacle that it is."

In an appeal to Bertie Ahern, Aideen Yourell of ICABS stated: "Would it not now be a fitting tribute, Taoiseach, and acknowledgement of Padraic Pearse, his brother Willie and his sister, Margaret, that in this the 90th commemoration of the events of 1916, to bring an end to the cruel abuse that is live hare coursing.

"It would be a gesture that would be applauded by the vast majority of our citizens. As you are no doubt aware, 80 per cent of the population want to see hare coursing banned. Also, our near neighbours have banned hare coursing, leaving us as the last bastion of blood sports that, ironically, we inherited from them in the first place."

The letter was passed by the Taoiseach to Minister John O'Donoghue whose disappointing reply consisted of the standard government defence of coursing as an activity with rules and regulations.

Padraic and Willie Pearse
Kind to the animals: Brothers Padraic and Willie Pearse

Sports Minister evades dog doping questions

The Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, has evaded questions about greyhound doping. The Minister, who has responsibility for the greyhound industry, told Tony Gregory, TD that his department "has no role in such matters".

Deputy Gregory was asking for the Minister's views "on the increasing use of unauthorised drugs in the greyhound industry" and about "the type of unauthorised drugs being used to improve the performance of greyhounds in racing and coursing".

While condemning the use of prohibited substances, Minister O'Donoghue claimed that dealing with the problem was not the responsibility of his department.

"Responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the greyhound industry, including doping issues, lies with Bord na gCon and my department has no role in such matters," he said.

"Accordingly, the information sought by the Deputy is not available to the department and he should, therefore, address his request directly to Bord na gCon and the Irish Coursing Club."

Happy ending for rescued road cub

A dazed and disorientated cub was saved from certain death after a kind-hearted motorist stopped to remove him from the middle of a road.

The man was driving along in the rain in County Wicklow when he noticed the creature sitting motionless on the road's central white line. Concerned that a collision was imminent, he carefully transferred the cub to his car.

After a few days of rehabilitation with minimal human contact, the youngster was on his way back to the wild. A search of woodland bordering the scene of the rescue proved fruitful. A den was located, from which it is believed the cub originated.

An ICABS supporter who passed on the details to us described the happy ending: "He released his little friend and it seemed to know where it was - it headed straight to the den! So hopefully it is none the worse for its holiday and will settle back in with its family again."

If you have a wildlife rescue story, we would love to hear about it. Send us your account, along with any photographs, to the usual address. Thank you.

Cub lying on bed of straw
On the road to recovery: the cub before being returned to wild (Photo: Michelle Rossiter)

Tom expands cruelty exposé on to internet

The former Galway Blazers Hunt follower who went on to expose some of the country's worst hunting barbarity has set up a website to further highlight the plight of foxes and deer.

Tom Hardiman, from Craughwell in County Galway, gave shockingly graphic eyewitness accounts of foxhunt cruelty back in 2000.

He described at the time how "when the fox goes to ground, the huntsman calls for the terrierman with the hunting horn and when the terrierman arrives, he lets the terrier into the fox den. The terrier goes straight to the fox and fights with it in a furious way. It's a vulgar act and no fox deserves to be killed in such a horrible way."

The new website, www.banfoxhuntingcrueltyireland.com, includes animal photos, hunt cruelty imagery, details about Tom's weekly Wednesday protests outside Dail Eireann and an anti-hunt petition.

Tom Hardiman with placards
Tom Hardiman outside Dail Eireann during one of his weekly Wednesday protests

Hunters hire spin doctor!

Foxhunters have employed an ex-government spin doctor to help them in their quest to make their cruelty acceptable. That's according to the May 2006 edition of UK hunting magazine, "Horse and Hound".

"Despite our huge support, there is a perceived political incorrectness in urban areas about hunting," said Gavin Duffy, an Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association Director and former government spin doctor. "It's nearly impossible to change that, so we want to educate the public on the differences between animal rights and animal welfare."

"There's no threat to hunting in Ireland," claimed Duffy, "but doing nothing won't help us. But we also don't want to attract unwanted attention. We've watched the UK developments closely and decided we had to become more of a campaigning and promotional body."

Duffy and the foxhunters will have their work cut out for them if they want to persuade the general public that barbaric acts against animals are in any way acceptable.

He went on to name a number of animal rights organisations whom, he claimed, were engaged in terror tactics.

It seems that if Ireland's hunters can't get the ball, they'll try to get the man. This tactic smacks of desperation and is increasingly being used.

For example, in a radio debate on Midlands Radio 3 last November on the deaths of two deer hunted by the Ward Union staghunt, Masters of Foxhounds PRO Brian Munn tried this diversionary tactic, in an apparent attempt to steer the subject away from the cruelty.

After denying that a deer killed during a hunt had been hunted at all (directly contradicting a Department of Agriculture veterinary report) and brushing off the other deer death, saying it "fell just", he went on to characterise the animal rights movement in Ireland as a "very, very dangerous one".

This despite there being no recorded instance of any terror outrage in Ireland by any animal rights group or individual, a point made by Aideen Yourell.

ICABS employs only peaceful tactics in our efforts to secure a ban on blood sports.

Hunter swinging a fox in the air for hunt hound to bite
A hunter holds up the victim of a foxhunt. No amount of spin will ever make this acceptable to Irish citizens.

Blooding on rabbits

Disturbing details received by ICABS points to illegal blooding activities in Munster.

An anonymous informant stated in a letter: "It is well known that at this time of the year, the blooding of greyhounds using live rabbits takes place in this area."

He outlined how rabbits are being sold to local greyhound owners who use them as part of gruesome training routines.

Blooding is believed to be widespread in the Irish greyhound industry. Dog scene journalist John Martin is on record as saying "the bald truth is that greyhound racing would not continue to exist without blooding."

If you have information about blooding activities, please phone the ICABS office immediately. All calls will be treated as confidential.

It's "best" for hunters to say nothing to farmers!
Hunt follower reveals trespass technique

A blood sports observer working on behalf of ICABS has documented the deplorable attitudes hunters hold towards the farming community.

Speaking to our undercover representative during a hunt, a talkative hunt follower explained that the easiest way to deal with farmers is to just come on to their land - with or without permission.

Acknowledging that hunt horses "make a great old mark" when they gallop across wet winter fields, the hunt supporter clearly understood why farmers want to keep hunters off their property. He even described an incident involving an infuriated farmer telling the hunters to "get the f*** out."

But as noted numerous times in the past, many hunts hold the view that wherever the pursued animal runs, they must follow. In so doing, these arrogant trespassers steamroll right over the landowner's wishes and rights.

"They're supposed to notify the farmers but if they notify the farmers, they can be out to protest," our observer was told. "So it's best to say nothing and they're gone through his land before he knows they're there."

He added: "If you told a farmer last week that you're coming through his field, he'd say: 'No, no, you're not f***ing coming through it.' But if the [hunted animal] happens to run down there and they run after it, the farmer won't know they're in it until they're gone. So, it's nearly best not to notify them at all."

ICABS is aware of farmers who have to take time out of their busy schedules to patrol the boundaries of their farms, ensuring that hunters and hounds stay at bay. It is clear from this latest insight that if they turn their backs, the hunters won't think twice about helping themselves to one of the farmers most precious assets.

We have shared this information with Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass who continue to fight for the rights of farmers. It has also been brought to the attention of the Irish Farmers Association who, ironically, have invited hunters to join their IFA Countryside scheme.

Hunters hesitate at a hedge after a farmer reminds them that coming on to land without permission is trespassing. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

A sheep farmer rushes over to his farm boundary where hunters and hounds are congregating. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Clergy out of cruelty - the campaign continues

Hunt priest reported to Limerick Bishop

ICABS has highlighted a hunting priest to the Bishop of Limerick and renewed our call for an end to clergy involvement in blood sports.

In our letter to Most Rev Donal Murray, we quoted an Irish Field article which stated that "I don't think that Fr Brouder from Crecora Parish made it [on horseback over a river bank] either, even with access to more divine sources."

We urged Bishop Murray to persuade Fr Brouder to end his involvement with foxhunting, not only because of the terrible animal cruelty involved in the blood sport but also because participation in hunting is discouraged in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Paragraph 2418 says that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly."

The hunt which Fr Brouder reportedly participated in, was said to have involved a run of over an hour and a half.

The Irish Field outlined how "the fox ran on through Rusheen near Drewscourt Bridge, swinging left-handed back into Co Limerick. He then took a line that brought him back to the plantation close to where they found him. They gave him best as they were running back into the country already hunted after a run of one hour and 35 minutes at a cracking pace."

A red fox
For God's sake, just leave us alone: priests have been asked to stay away from foxhunting.

Priest presents coursing award

Among those presenting awards at a Co Limerick coursing meeting was a priest, ICABS was horrified to learn.

According to the Sporting Press website, the priest presented the Paddy Reidy Cup for the winner of the Oaks Trial Stake at Glin.

ICABS has brought this to the attention of the Catholic Communications Office and urged them to take steps to convey to the clergy the inappropriateness of associating with coursing clubs.

At a previous visit to a Glin coursing meet, ICABS observers witnessed hares being mauled into the ground and a greyhound suffering a broken leg. At this year's event, another greyhound sustained an injury and had to be carried off the field.

Hunt master priest caught on camera

The Irish Bishops Conference has been notified about a priest who spends his spare time hunting hares and foxes.

A report in the Irish Field referred to Fr Shane McCaughey as being the joint-master of the Drumlin Hunt Club in County Cavan. A photograph showed the mounted priest jumping over a gate next to the caption: "Drumlin Master Fr Shane McCaughey tackles a five-bar gate".

Published in December 2005, the article also detailed how wildlife was chased by the hunt's hounds.

In harrier hunting, both foxes and hares are pursued; when the unfortunate animals are caught, the dogs tear them apart.

The Monaghan-based priest is listed as one of the Drumlin Hunt's five joint masters in the Irish Field directory. He also acts as a whipper-in for the hunt which has meets on Saturdays and Wednesdays throughout the season.

In a letter to the Bishop of Clonfert, Most Rev Joseph Duffy, DD, ICABS expressed disappointment that yet another priest has been found to be involved in blood sports.

Bands against blood sports

Many thanks to all who supported the ICABS benefit gig in August. The show at The Stables in Mullingar was a resounding success with memorable performances from three top bands.

Kicking off the night were instrumentalists, Jung Turks, whose energetic, and often evocative, performance enraptured the audience at the intimate midlands venue. Eddie Rooney on string guitar and brother James on drums ended on a high note with "Save the little foxes", a composition specially christened for the occasion!

Next on stage was Innate, one of Mullingar's most popular and longest running rock acts. The foursome's set included material from recently released debut album, Sweet Mess. Earlier on in the week, lead singer Frank Byrne gave listeners to Midlands Radio 3 a live acoustic preview of some of the night's offerings with favourite "Solitude" being among the highlights.

Headlining the event, and fresh from entertaining the masses at a Welsh music festival, were local rockers, Waiting to Explode. Their renowned on-stage energy proved infectious with the crowd really coming to life.

Their commanding fusion of funk and rock blasted from the stage, ensuring a night to remember for fans. In the weeks following the gig, Waiting to Explode were preparing to launch their first album, an anticipated release recently wrapped up in London.

ICABS is grateful to all three bands for coming together for this special event. We are also indebted to musician and music student, Tanya O'Callaghan, for organising the night. A long-time supporter of the campaign against blood sports, Tanya has several animal welfare fund-raisers to her credit.

We also wish to thank all who signed our petitions on the night and took copies of our new campaign DVD.

The night was such an enjoyable success that another music-related fund-raiser is currently being considered. More details will be announced in the coming months. Thanks again to all who gave their support.

Band photos
Members of Waiting to Explode performing at the ICABS benefit gig in August (top) and Jung Turks drummer, James Rooney.

Frank Byrne playing guitar
Innate front man, Frank Byrne, at the ICABS gig. (Photos: Tanya O'Callaghan & Philip Kiernan)

Ban bull-bird barbarity: appeal to a president

ICABS has called on the President of Peru to stop a barbaric event which revolves around a condor attacking a bull. The bird is tied to the bull's back by villagers and attempts to peck its way to freedom. The Yawar fiesta is cruel to both bird and bull.

According to details presented on a Peruvian tourism website, the event is part of Independence Day celebrations, with the animals representing the Spanish and Andean worlds.

The site provided the following disturbing insight into the suffering involved: "Once the condor has been trapped, it is lashed to the bull's back, which the bird pecks at savagely in a bid to free itself. At the same time, the bull is released in the ring and surrounded by spontaneous bullfighters who fend off the animal with their ponchos. The bull, maddened with pain, leaps into the air trying to rid itself of the condor. Finally, when the bull has been overcome - and it usually is - the condor is set free amidst music and general rejoicing. If the condor is badly wounded, or dies, it is taken as an omen for the village."

In our appeal to President Alan Gabriel Ludwig Garcia Perez, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports expressed our dismay that the bull-condor fight is allowed.

"Such barbarity should have no place in a civilised country like Peru and it is disappointing to see it being hailed as a 'popular festivity' on an official Peruvian tourism website," we stated. "Peru is one of the prettiest places on the planet with a huge variety of activities for tourists - we believe that there is no necessity to associate Peru with a cruel activity of this type."

ACTION ALERT

Appeal to the Peruvian President to ban bull-condor fighting at the Yawar fiesta. Also contact the Promotion of Peru Commission to register your opposition.

Alan Gabriel Ludwig Garcia Perez, President of Peru,
El Despacho Presidencial
Plaza Mayor s/n, Lima, Peru
Email: presidente@presidencia.gob.pe

Commission for the Promotion of Peru.
Email: postmaster@promperu.gob.pe

Bull being attacked by condor
"Maddened with pain": An unfortunate bull is taunted by locals while a condor savagely pecks at its back.

Bullfighting to be removed from student website

The International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) has responded positively to an ICABS appeal and promised to remove bullfighting content from its website.

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 has promised to have this content removed from the site.

A spokesperson stated: "We certainly do not want to be seen as condoning blood sports. 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.

Snare them, shoot them, dig them out, kill them
Shock at Teagasc sheep man's fox killing advice

ICABS has made contact with Teagasc, the farm advisory body, after one of its representatives recommended that farmers dig foxes out and kill them with terriers.

The offensive comments appeared last March in an Irish Independent column by sheep adviser, Michael Gottstein.

After detailing how to set snares for foxes, he went on to mention dig-outs and terriers.

"Digging out fox dens or using terriers which enter the dens and kill foxes is also an option for controlling numbers," he added.

ICABS was dismayed to see such an inhumane act being suggested. Such dig-out activities are normally the preserve of heartless hardcore hunters, including terriermen employed by foxhunts. As evidenced by video footage on the ICABS website, it is enormously cruel and results in untold suffering.

We can only hope that farmers reject this advice.

As pointed out in previous editions of Animal Voice, informed farmers don't have to worry about fox control because foxes are not actually a significant threat to sheep or lambs. This fact is backed up by ecologists and naturalists from all over the world. Even the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service has confirmed that "no matter what some people think, foxes rarely kill and eat lambs."

Mr Gottstein comes close to acknowledging this, writing that "it is difficult to quantify the level of loss that occurs due to the presence of foxes."

Thankfully, a humane alternative was mentioned at the end of the article. For compassionate farmers, electric fencing is the sensible route to take.

"Electric fencing appears to be one of the best physical barriers available to keep foxes at bay," the Teagasc columnist conceded. "Electrified sheep netting or two strands of electric fence wire along a traditional sheep wire fence is almost guaranteed to keep foxes out."

ICABS contacted Michael Gottstein and expressed our shock at his column content. In a subsequent article dealing with lamb losses, he did not mention foxes. Statistics he presented showed that starvation and exposure are the top lamb killers, accounting for 30 per cent of deaths. Infectious diseases are responsible for 20 per cent, difficult lambing 25 per cent and physical injuries 15 per cent. Rather tellingly, no statistics on predation were cited.

Truly appalling: A terrier bites into the head of a fox which was dug out of the ground. It's an option, farmers have been told.

Needlessly killed: A fox lies dead at a farm boundary with a snare around his neck.

Coursing's medieval and should now be banned
Coursing views voiced. Did your TD have something to say?

Coursing is medieval and cruel and should be banned. An industry based on cruelty should not be allowed to continue. Just some of the coursing views expressed in the Dail in June.

Speaking during a debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006, a number of TDs made references to the blood sport.

ICABS Vice-president, Tony Gregory, stated that the "Irish Coursing Club is a law unto itself and is not fit to regulate anything involving animal welfare".

Dublin North Central TD, Finian McGrath, described coursing as the downside of the greyhound industry while Paul Nicholas Gogarty of the Green Party highlighted how, despite the muzzling of greyhounds, hares continue to die.

Those who spoke in favour of the blood sport were Sean Power, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children and Tipperary South TD, Seamus Healy. Meanwhile, Fine Gael's Tom Hayes claimed that the reason coursing gets bad press is because of "a lack of knowledge"! Here, we present extracts from the debate...

Tony Gregory, TD
(Independent, Dublin Central)
"The Irish Coursing Club is a law unto itself and is not fit to regulate anything involving animal welfare...Live hare coursing - a medieval and cruel practice - is still legal and should be banned outright as has been done in more advanced countries.

"The dog that won the coursing greyhound of the year award, Boa Vista, is owned by Vinnie Jones and others. It also won the Irish Cup 2005-06, sponsored by J.P. McManus, receiving prize money of €80,000. It tested positive for a banned drug following that win but we still do not know what drug was involved.

"The industry is riddled with corrupt practices and a complete investigation into all aspects of the industry is needed. I refer in particular to the illegal, disgraceful practice of blooding greyhounds with live rabbits, hares and kittens."

Paul Nicholas Gogarty, TD
(Green Party, Dublin Mid-West)
"Only a handful of Deputies have referred to the health and safety of hares. Deputy Gregory referred to the continuing practice of blooding and cruelty to dogs. Greyhounds are treated as commodities and put down once they have outlived their usefulness. Even in the regulated system where dogs wear muzzles, hares are held for up to six weeks and may be killed by stress or mauling during coursing meets.

"I have nothing against the greyhound industry per se. I acknowledge that a night at the dogs could be an enjoyable event but not at the expense of unnecessary cruelty and mistreatment of animals."

Tom Hayes, TD
(Fine Gael, Tipperary South)
"The greyhound and coursing industries have been getting bad press due to a lack of knowledge."

Sean Power, TD
Minister of State at the Dept of Health and Children
(Fianna Fail, Kildare South):
"I was a greyhound owner in the past and my family was involved down through the years in the industry. I like a night at the dogs.

In recent years, the issue of clerical abuse has received a great deal of publicity. However, as a former altar boy, my experience of the church was much different. I was an altar boy to a priest who loved both horse and greyhound racing and I had the pleasure of travelling around the country to attend horse and greyhound race meetings and even the odd coursing meeting."

Finian McGrath, TD
(Independent, Dublin North Central)
"I support the plan to end doping and rigging of greyhound races. I demand standards in the industry to root out doping and sleaze. Although it is an important social and family event, the downside of it is coursing, on which we need a debate."

Seamus Healy, TD
(Independent, Tipperary South)
"This is a small but important industry, particularly in the area from where I come in south Tipperary in which the Clonmel track is located and which hosts the national coursing festival each year. The greyhound and coursing industries are important and give much employment and support to other industries and business in the town of Clonmel and much enjoyment and sport to the many people involved at all levels."

Iarnrod Eireann urged to tackle trespassing hunts

Iarnrod Eireann has declined to respond to a question about a foxhunter who jumped a level crossing barrier as a train approached.

As reported in the last edition of Animal Voice, the Galway Blazers hunter reportedly "jumped the double gates...and beat the oncoming train to it."

ICABS was assured last year that an investigation was taking place but when we enquired about this, no details were forthcoming.

"We would be most grateful if we could receive details about the outcome so that we can assure our supporters that Iarnrod Eireann is determined to deal severely with hunt trespass, particularly when there is an issue of public safety involved," we stated in a letter to company CEO, Richard Fearn.

In his response, there was no mention of an investigation. "Trespass on the railway is a serious safety concern to us," Mr Fearn stressed. "Trespass endangers both the safe passage of trains and seriously endangers the life of the trespasser."

In a subsequent letter to ICABS, Mr Fearn promised that the Blazers hunt would be contacted.

"Noting your concern that in particular, the Galway Blazers hunt has allegedly trespassed on the railway on more than one occasion, I have asked my district manager, Mr Gerry Glynn, to contact this hunt directly and to advise them of the seriousness of acts of trespass on the railway," he stated.

Over the past several years, ICABS has been keeping track of trespassing hunts. Each time we become aware of another incursion, we urge Iarnrod Eireann and the Minister for Transport to pursue the matter and prosecute the hunts in question.

To our knowledge, no prosecution of a hunt has yet taken place.

If you witness a hunt trespassing on rail lines, immediately contact Iarnrod Eireann. Try and get photos or video footage and forward copies to ICABS. Thank you.

ACTION ALERT

Please write to Iarnrod Eireann and ask what action they plan to take to keep hunts off railway lines.

Mr Richard Fearn
CEO, Iarnrod Eireann
Connolly Station, Dublin 1
Email: info@irishrail.ie
Tel: 01-703 2454.
Fax: 01-703 2608.

Mounted hunters on railway tracks
One of the hunt trespass incidents reported to Iarnrod Eireann (Photo: Aideen Yourell)

Coursers told to bog off

Coursers trying to catch hares on Bord na Mona land have been told to bog off and leave the wildlife alone.

The company has confirmed that its 85,000 hectares of peatland property is strictly off-limits to blood sports enthusiasts.

"For many years, Bord na Mona has declared its lands as being conserved for wildlife," a company spokesperson told ICABS, adding that "in recent years we prevented hare coursing enthusiasts from capturing hares on our bogs."

The shooting of wildlife is also banned on Bord na Mona land. The spokesperson explained that "in addition to the conservation issues, there is a significant safety issue for employees and others as bullets could travel considerable distance on our lands, given the generally flat nature of the terrain."

ICABS congratulates Bord na Mona for their pro-wildlife stance.

Letters to the Editors

The future of the hare is threatened by coursing and hunting activities
John Fitzgerald, Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports, Callan, Co Kilkenny. Published in the Kilkenny Advertiser, 4th October 2006.

With a new coursing season about to commence, I hope Minister Dick Roche will take action against coursing clubs that net hares in breach of licensing conditions.

A coursing club in the midlands was recently caught red-handed in the act of capturing hares outside the time-frame permitted by law. A wildlife officer found a number of terrified captives in the grounds of the club concerned before September 1st, the date from which netting was permitted.

This might seem like nit-picking on my part, given that I am opposed to hare coursing itself and not just to technical violations by clubs of the various rules and conditions. However, this is not the case. While concerned at the obvious cruelty of coursing, I am equally cognisant of the fact that the future of the Irish hare as a species is threatened by coursing and hunting activities, in addition to the threat it faces from rampant urbanisation and modern farming.

The reason coursing clubs need to net hares out of season is that the animals have become very scarce in some parts of Ireland. This increases the pressure on clubs to capture them in sufficient numbers.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has designated the hare as a "species of the highest conservation concern".

Minister Roche should take a cue from the Northern Ireland Environment Minister, who has imposed a total suspension on netting of hares for coursing. This action was taken after a survey of the hare population in Ulster showed that the species was under severe threat from multiple factors, including the activities of coursing clubs.

As there is no evidence to indicate that hares recognise the border, we can safely assume that the Republic's hares are in as much trouble from a conservation point of view as the ones that frolic in the glens of Antrim or the fields of South Armagh.

Despite this obvious threat confronting an animal celebrated in Irish myth and folklore, the government sees fit to allow another coursing season. Upwards of 7,000 hares will be captured nationwide for bait. Some will die a lingering death from internal injuries - the hare is a brittle-boned creature. Some will die unseen in the wild after release. Others will expire in front of a human audience...sobbing like babies in their hour of death, their bulging eyes spouting blood and water onto freshly cut grass.

Others will twist and turn and dodge in a desperate bid to escape. Others again will be tossed high into the air to loud applause.

Some day a courageous and humane government will ban coursing. In the meantime, I hope the Minister will at least give the hares a break.

He can halt the licensing of clubs that break the law (inadequate though it is) in their abuse of our hare population.

Foot-hunting puts me off visiting Ireland
Jean Bennington, Denbighshire, Wales. Published in the Irish Examiner, 27 February 2006.

Your feature on foot-hunting and the description of this activity as being the hidden face of Ireland (Irish Examiner Arena, February 22) has put me off visiting your country.

As for describing hounds' cries as music, well, to my musician's ear it is the sound of terror and death as the quarry screams in agony.

In Britain we now have a hunt ban that took 80 years to get through the bureaucracy of the House of Lords and the ruling land-owning classes. It doesn't go far enough, but we animal rights campaigners will continue to fight against the persecution of innocent animals.

It seems a ban on hare coursing is not even being considered in your country and it breaks my heart to think the human race - as animal rights campaigner Annette Crosby, the actress, recently said - is "the nastiest species that ever evolved".

The cruelty of coursing
Aideen Yourell, Irish Council Against Blood Sports. Extract from letter published in the Irish Independent, June 17th, 2006.

I fully agree with John Fitzgerald when he states that hare coursing is cruel and should be outlawed.

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 and causes immense stress and terror for these timid creatures.

Hares continue to be struck, tossed into the air and mauled into the ground by greyhounds, and video evidence obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports 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.

Other abuses noted in these 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 Minister Roche.

Dead hare
Another victim: a dead hare within a coursing enclosure

Hunts must not be free to block roads
Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports, Extract from a letter published in the Belfast Telegraph, 6th March, 2006.

"When a hunt blocks a road, it is all too easy to annoy passing motorists who may be under pressure of work...don't antagonise the motorists, they aren't having the fun that we are."

This is the crass advice offered by an Irish Masters of Foxhunting Association spokesperson to the blood sport enthusiasts who routinely clog up roads around the country. It's advice which is clearly being ignored.

Motorists passing through hunt country continue to suffer delays as the moving road block of hunters, horses and hounds lead to lengthy tailbacks.

Neanderthals wearing dead animal hats
Ken Vass, Kenmare. Published in the Irish Independent, February 4th, 2006.

What could possibly have prompted you to dedicate page three of Tuesday's edition (January 31) to a half page photo of three Neanderthals, from my native Scotland, wearing dead animals on their heads and rejoicing in the barbarity of hare coursing?

Your insensitivity was compounded by your decision to devote the rest of the page to a panegyric on this alleged sport.

No justification for fox hunting
Jenna O'Connell. Extract from a letter published in The Kingdom Newspaper, March 3rd, 2005.

I find it hard to believe that people are prosecuted for domestic animal abuse while foxhunters get away with terrorising and killing animals right in front of our very eyes.

In the light of the progress made in England and Wales, it is time for our government to listen to the public voice. It is inevitable that, in a democracy such as this, the will of the majority will prevail.

TB in badgers - cattle confirmed as culprits

by Joe Kennedy

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.

The UK Badger Trust charity points out that this research has been peer-reviewed by independent international scientists, so it cannot be undermined by some veterinarian pressure groups who profess to have a better scientific understanding of the complex dynamics of the disease.

Badger Trust spokesman Trevor Lawson said: "This research confirms beyond doubt that cattle are the major vectors of bovine TB, readily infecting badgers and other cattle. Farming lobby groups should now have the courage to call a halt to illegal badger killing."

Mr Lawson pulls no punches when dealing with the veterinary profession. He said: "Those callous vets who have demanded badger killing should hang their heads in shame. They have undermined public confidence in the veterinary profession's commitment to animal welfare and severely damaged the profession's scientific integrity."

Badger Trust says that confirmation that cattle rapidly spread TB to badgers was obtained as a result of the foot-and-mouth catastrophe. Prior to F&M, the prevalence of bovine TB in culled badgers was around five per cent. When TB testing of cattle stopped, the disease spread rapidly between cattle within herds. In 2002, the prevalence of TB in badgers shot up to more than 20 per cent and then declined as TB testing removed infected cattle.

The authors of the paper, from the Independent Scientific Group, Veterinary Laboratories Agency and Central Science Laboratory, advise that "badger culling apparently has the capacity to increase badger-to-badger transmission of infection, potentially undermining anticipated reductions in badger-to-cattle transmission.

"Likewise, cattle-to-badger transmission appears to be influenced by cattle-testing regimes, which suggests that improved cattle controls might not only have immediate benefits but could ultimately reduce the probability of infection from wildlife."

Here in Ireland, in the past decade, about 30,000 badgers have been officially culled. They are snared and endure intense suffering before they are dispatched by gunshot by 'badger operatives' employed by the Department of Agriculture.

Trevor Sargent of the Green Party asked in the Dail for a total ban on snaring. He was told there was no need for it. A British MP described culling as being based "on voodoo rather than science". This programme continues.

In Kenneth Grahame's classic The Wind in the Willows, Badger describes his tribe as "an enduring lot - and so it will ever be". This article originally appeared in the Sunday Independent of October 22nd, 2006.

Two cows approaching a badger in a field
Cows close in on a vulnerable badger. A new report has confirmed that cattle spread TB to badgers and that culling is a bad idea. (Image: Peter Akokan)

Madonna stops shooting birds

An announcement by Madonna that she no longer engages in bird shooting has been welcomed by animal welfare campaigners.

As reported previously in Animal Voice, the pop singer often joined husband, Guy Ritchie, on shoots on their Wiltshire estate.

But, as revealed to Tatler Magazine, her involvement in the bird blasting has now ended. The reason? She finally realised that shooting birds causes suffering.

"I was mad for shooting a couple of years ago," she is quoted as saying. "That all changed when a bird dropped in front of me that I'd shot. It wasn't dead. It got up and it was really suffering. Blood was gushing out of its mouth and it was struggling up this hill and I thought 'Oh God, I did that'. I caused the suffering of this creature."

The League Against Cruel Sports has asked Madonna to end all shoots on her property. Past shooting party guests have included Brad Pitt and courser, Vinnie Jones.

Madonna
Madonna: Mad on shooting before seeing suffering (Photo: madonna.com)

Dreadful display from Ronaldo

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 bull with some on-the-ball manoeuvres.

Despite being made aware of the cruelty of bullfighting, the company responsible has defended the advert saying that no animal was harmed and arguing that it does not indicate support for the activity.

ICABS contends, however, that using a blood sport to promote a beer is decidedly distasteful. Even more so when it is realised that bullfighting is banned in Brazil.

We have appealed to people to follow in Ronaldo's footsteps if they're on a football field but not if visiting a country where bullfighting takes place.

Ronaldo
Ronaldo: Criticised for bullfight advert

Book Review Fox Makes Friends

Fox sat in his room. He was bored. "I know," he said. "I need a friend."

So begins the heart warming story of Fox Makes Friends, a gorgeously illustrated book which children are sure to adore.

The fox, squirrel and rabbit characters are brought to life in this visual treat by artist Adam Relf. As a wildlife enthusiast, he presents the characters in a positive light throughout the 32 pages. Parents will find it refreshing that there is no negative, clichéd misinformation about foxes present here!

Fox Makes Friends is highly recommended. Published by Macmillan Children's Books, it costs around €15.

Front cover of book
Fox Makes Friends is highly recommended

Thanks to Dublin Support Group

We would like to say a big thank you to the Dublin Support Group of ICABS for their very generous sponsorship of this edition of Animal Voice.

The €1,000 which the group sent to Head Office will cover the cost of printing the newsletter.

Thank you to each and every member of the hard-working committee who raised these funds for the campaign. Thanks also to all who support the group.

Cruel traps recalled after ICABS action

In the last edition of Animal Voice we highlighted the horrendous cruelty of glue traps. Considered one of the most inhumane animal traps ever, they are capable of catching not only rats and mice but also pets, birds and wildlife.

Trapped animals bite off their own limbs in futile efforts to escape and are doomed to die of suffocation, dehydration or starvation.

Since then, ICABS has learned that these traps are actually illegal in Ireland. The Wildlife Act (Approved Traps, Snares and Nets) Regulations 2003 make it an offence to import, offer for sale or possess glue traps.

This was confirmed in March when ICABS Vice-President, Tony Gregory, TD, queried Minister Dick Roche. The Environment Minister subsequently issued a statement expressing concern about the availability of the traps.

"I believe that many retailers and members of the public may be unaware that to sell or to possess an unauthorised trap is an offence under Irish law", said the Minister. "My Department is actively pursuing the sale of these illegal traps and glues. Prosecutions have been and will be taken where breaches of the law are detected."

Thanks to the efforts of ICABS, thousands of creatures will be spared the gruesome grip of the glue trap. They have now been removed from Woodie's, Poundworld, Pound City, Euro2 as well as from pet shops and hardware stores.

The latest success came in September. An English company which had been distributing glue traps thanked us for alerting them to their illegality in Ireland. A spokesperson stated that, further to our appeals, they had "cancelled a pending order of these items from our supplier in China and [they] will be discontinued from our range".

ACTION ALERT

Help ensure that inhumane traps stay off shop shelves. Visit local hardware stores, pet shops, discount outlets, etc and if glue traps are on sale, please send us details immediately. Be on the look-out also for leg-hold traps (aka gin traps) which are also illegal. Thank you.

A mouse lying dead in a glue trap
A terrible way to die. Glue traps are illegal in Ireland and have been removed from shops after a sustained campaign by ICABS. (Photo: PETA)

YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL

A big thank you to all who sent in subscriptions and donations following the last edition of Animal Voice.

We wish to keep everyone on our database updated but to do this, we need your subs coming in to cover our campaign costs.

Please continue your support by renewing your subscription.

If your subscription is not yet due for renewal, please pass the enclosed form on to a friend. Further copies of Animal Voice and forms are available on request or may be downloaded from our website.

Thank you again for your continued support of our campaign.

Credits

Animal Voice is published by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Tel: 044-93 49848. Fax: 044-93 49848. Email:info@banbloodsports.com. Website: www.banbloodsports.com.

Editorial Team: Philip Kiernan and Aideen Yourell. Layout & Design: Philip Kiernan. Contributors: Peter Akokan, Paul Croke, Louise Gleeson, Mike Huskisson, Joe Kennedy, Philip Kiernan, Dick Power, Mike Rendle, Michelle Rossiter and Aideen Yourell. Please pass Animal Voice on to a friend when you are finished with it. Thank you.


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