Newsletter

Animal Voice, Winter 2006-07 (40th Anniversary Edition)
Section 4

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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