Animal Voice, Winter 2006-07 (40th Anniversary Edition)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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?
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.
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