Animal Watch, Summer 1996
Full Contents - Pages 1-24
There can be no doubt that the days of foxhunting and hare coursing in this country are numbered. Apart from any campaigning from animal welfare groups, there are two forces against them.
Firstly there is education in the widest sense. People, especially young people, are more aware of wild animals, their habitats, behaviour and place in the global environment. This improved awareness and understanding makes it much harder to view animals (wild or otherwise) as playthings or that chasing, tormenting and killing them can be accepted as legitimate pastimes. Television and newspapers have played their part and animal welfare groups can also be proud of their role in this education process. In very recent times, the BSE crisis has alerted the public to the fact that animals cannot be treated like "products" and fed diets designed for profit, rather than the animals' needs. It may seem slow, but the process of education in animal welfare issues is inevitable and irresistible.
Secondly, there is the disappearance of the rural/urban divide. Twenty years ago, when I moved to a country village ten miles from Limerick City, there were locals who had never visited the city, and my eight mile journey to work was considered excessive. Today the picture has changed. No longer do country dwellers live their lives exclusively in their rural environment and it is no longer the case that city dwellers view the countryside as a different (even alien) environment. Country dwellers now have access to entertainment and leisure activities to an extent not possible a generation ago. "Country" pastimes like hare coursing and foxhunting are no longer the only diversions and they are losing support.
Animal welfare groups have an important role in all of this. Peoples' attitudes change only slowly and although a news item may catch the headlines for a few days, the details are soon forgotten. But the underlying feelings remain and build up over the years to shape attitudes. Work done now will shape attitudes in the future and strengthen the forces against blood sports which can only hasten their complete demise.
The 1996 ICABS raffle was drawn on 6 June. We are pleased to announce the following winners:
1st Prize (£300) M. McCarthy, Cork.
2nd Prize (£200) M. Hurley, Dublin.
3rd Prize (£l00) E. Mulhall, Dublin.
And prizes of £50 to: E. Cocoran, Galway (2 prizes!); A. Casey, Dublin; M. Cotes, Dublin; M.S. West, Sligo; Rowena, Surrey, England; B. Hayes, Torquay, Wales.
ICABS wish to thank all their supporters for their continued support. Winners have been notified by post.
Dublin Central Support Group News
Dublin Central support group held a successful flag day on the 6th and 7th of June. The main areas targeted were Grafton Street, Westmoreland Street and Blanchardstown. The collectors had a very positive reaction from the public and even tourists to the capital contributed to the ICABS cause.
The Dublin Central support group contributed to a stand under Joint Animal Aid at the Irish Kennel Club Dog Show in Swords on St Patrick's Day. Leaflets were handed out, petitions signed and various items with the ICABS logo put on sale. Again a successful day was had.
Next August the Dublin Horse show will be held again in the RDS. In previous years some difficulty has been experienced by a number of animal welfare groups exhibiting at the show under the Joint Animal Aid. ICABS supporters were told that our leaflets too were not suitable for distribution. The fox hunting fraternity were collecting signatures in their favour. It is only fair that the ICABS point of view should be allowed voiced in the public arena of the show. This is not the last they have heard from ICABS!
"Foxhunting is not cruel!"
We couldn't believe our ears when on Midlands Radio 3, during a recent debate on the infiltration of the ISPCA by foxhunters, Mrs Picia Harvey-Kelly, secretary of the Westmeath SPCA, stated over the air that foxhunting and coursing were not cruel.
This bombshell from Mrs Harvey-Kelly, a well known hunt supporter, came following a call on the same radio programme by ICABS PRO Aideen Yourell to ISPCA CEO Ciaran O'Donovan to stand firm against the foxhunters and to send out a clear message that the ISPCA will not tolerate such people in their ranks.
Ms Yourell also gave her account of how she had been ousted from the Westmeath SPCA a number of years ago when a pack of hunt supporters was brought in for an AGM to vote her off the committee. She spoke of how other hardworking members, committed to real animal welfare work, had been removed or had left in disgust or disillusionment to form a new group, Friends of Animals.
Extract from Midlands Radio 3 debate involving Mr D. Delaney (presenter), Mrs Picia Harvey-Kelly (Westmeath SPCA), Ms A. Yourell, Mr C. O'Donovan (Irish SPCA).
Mrs Harvey-Kelly: I mean obviously we are very much against all forms of actual cruelty.
Mr Delaney: Do you see foxhunting as cruel?
Mrs Harvey-Kelly: Personally I don't, but what I do find cruel are these gangs that go out shooting foxes, badger snaring and that sort of thing, I find more cruel.
Mr Delaney: I mean what kind of hunting is acceptable?
Mrs Harvey-Kelly: Well, I mean, I don't see anything wrong with foxhunting, personally.
Mr Delaney: Do you think there should be a ban on foxhunting in this country?
Mrs Harvey-Kelly: I do not.
Mr Delaney: What about coursing'?
Mrs Harvey-Kelly: (after a long pause) I don't think it's cruel.
Support Group News
Cork Support Group: The Cork support group's annual flag day was held on 22nd April. We would like to thank the following for taking part: Mary Neville, Deirdre Brennan, Anthony Morley, Anne MulCarthy, Alex Higgans and Anne McCarthy. A substantial amount of money was collected
Cork support group held a successful and entertaining pub quiz in the Thirsty Scholar on 22nd May. There was an excellent attendance with over 40 people present. As well as the main prizes there were several spot prizes including a meal for two in Café Paradiso. There were a wide variety of questions to keep everyone entertained.
Waterford Support Group: The Waterford support group held their Flag Day on 26th May in City Square. Despite the heavy rain, supporters Paddy Dempsey, James Hennessy, Perry Fanning and friends turned out to fly the ICABS flag. Well done all!
Limerick Support Group: Limerick support group held their Flag Day on Saturday, 29th June. A very successful day was had with over £500 being raised. Many thanks to all those people who helped and supported ICABS.
New animal welfare magazine
The Irish Trust for the Protection and Care of Animals has recently launched its new magazine "Mad About Animals".
The magazine covers a wide range of issues from the care of domestic pets to the coastal environment and has some nice colour photography.
Badger hunter convicted
Wexford Badgerwatch has been involved in a third successful prosecution for cruelty to badgers. Michael O'Hanlon from Rahora in South Kilkenny had pleaded not guilty to hunting the animal and not guilty to interfering with or destroying the breeding place of the badger and guilty to hunting on lands without permission, entering lands without permission and carrying onto land the devices capable of being used to hunt wild animals. After hearing evidence, Mr O'Hanlon was found guilty on all five counts.
Members of Badgerwatch, including Willie Delaney - a long term member at ICABS - having received a telephone call went to the scene where they heard barking from a nearby field. The Gardai were called who seized two shovels and a flash hook.
Three men at the scene of the barking, when accused of badger baiting, said that they were after foxes. However the site of the dig-out was confirmed as an active badger sett by wildlife ranger Padraig Comerford. The defendant, in evidence, said that the other two men were out shooting and came along to help dig one of his four terriers out of the ground. (Examiner, 28th November, 1996)
Coursing by night
Sevenhouses coursing club in County Kilkenny plan to conduct meetings under floodlights to be installed at a remote field at Cuffesgrange.
Sevenhouses are under the impression that they will be able to conduct meetings in winter under the lights that will generate money.
Perhaps Sevenhouses overlooked Section 37(1) of the Wildlife Protection Act which states: "It is an offence to hunt any protected wild animal between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise." Note that hares are a protected wild animal.
The badger and habitat survey
This project was initiated in 1980 and carried out principally by staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
A systematic survey of 1% of Ireland's land area was undertaken. In total 1,378 badger setts were identified with an estimate obtained of c. 139,000 setts in Ireland.
Approximately 15% of setts had suffered some form of disturbance, 21% of main setts were disturbed. Digging was the most common form of disturbance, but setts were also found frequently blocked and many setts had been adversely affected by land development.
Data did suggest an upper estimate of badger deaths that might have resulted from such disturbance (c. 4,000 annually). It was not possible to estimate how much of the digging of setts was carried out specifically for the purpose of badger baiting.
A reliable estimate of the number of adult badgers in Ireland is 196,000.
(The Badger and Habitat Survey of Ireland, Dept of Agriculture, 1995)
Dublin big cats
As of a few weeks ago the jaguar and serval found recently in a garage in suburban Dublin were being held in Dublin Zoo where they were removed to by the DSPCA at the request of the Gardai.
A spokesman for the Garda Press Office said that a file of prosecution has been sent to the DPP. It is believed that a case of cruelty will be taken against the owner.
Neither Dublin Zoo nor Fota Wildlife Park have the facilities to keep the cats long term. Dublin Zoo has found suitable homes for the cats abroad. It appears, however, that the future of the cats depends on the outcome of the courts.
The Control of Horses bill is due to go through the Dail and Senate shortly. The aim of the proposed bill is to reduce the number of wandering horses in urban areas and to link the responsibility and care of the animals to their owners.
The new legislation is to include: compulsory licensing of horses (with licenses only to be given to those who can show the relevant local authority that they know how to care for a horse), an identification scheme using either stamps or microchips, a minimum age requirement for purchasing horses and tighter pounding regulations. (Irish Veterinary Journal, Jun 1996)
Bord Failte ends hunt advertising
Bord Failte has stopped promoting hunting holidays in Ireland. Officially, this is not due to any particular directive but because of the sway in public opinion against blood sports.
When a member of ICABS staff from the Mullingar office, posing as a hunting enthusiast, called the local tourist office he was told that they no longer actively promote hunting holidays and that it was a controversial and minority activity.
One of ICABS' directors, Mr Pat Phelan, was interviewed on RTE Radio Cork. The interviewer, Michael Ryan, began by stating that this was "a minor victory for the campaign". Pat quickly responded, saying that it was a major victory. Michael Ryan was forced to agree.
Private hunt holidays still advertised
Even though Bord Failte may no longer actively promote hunting holidays, private holiday hotels still do. Arbutus Lodge Hotel in Cork says in its promotional literature that: "We can arrange golf and hunting in season."
Their brochure goes on to list the numbers of foxhound and beagle packs in the area.
We must be vigilant against hotels like this promoting blood money tourism as an "attractive" feature of Ireland.
Should you like to make your views known, write to Arbutus Lodge Hotel, Montenotte, Cork.
Inform the ICABS office of any blood holidays you know of.
Cock fighting in Cavan
In early April this year the Irish Cock Fighting Derby took place in Redhills, Co Cavan. Over 200 people attended, some travelling from the UK.
Cock fighting has a strong following in the border regions where it is organised at county level on a weekly basis.
"Spur fighting" involves replacing the bird's natural heel with a steel spur.
A Garda spokesman at divisional headquarters in Cavan said Gardai were aware that cock fights were staged in the North but received few complaints about them.
(Irish Times, 10th May 1996)
NITB withdraws hunting display
ICABS was recently shocked to learn of a foxhunting window display in the Dublin office of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board at 16 Nassau Street, Dublin.
Half of the window display was taken up with a painting of a foxhunt and the rest with the usual paraphernalia associated with foxhunting. A representative of the NITB told ICABS that the display was to promote a game and country fair taking place in Antrim.
Since an ICABS press release calling on the NITB to remove the foxhunting display, it was reported in the Irish Times that the NITB has now done so. The board said it regretted any offence caused by the display.
Charity rejects hunting prize
The Alzheimer's Society made a decision to reject a day's foxhunting as one of the items on offer in a fund-raising auction which took place on 18th April 1996 in the Silver Springs Hotel, Cork.
It appears that the hunting fraternity are engaged in a public relations exercise of cynically attempting to use unsuspecting voluntary organisations by making donations to gain themselves badly needed brownie points in local communities. We warmly congratulate the Alzheimer's Society for rejecting this offer.
Government slow to act on Wildlife bill
The 1976 Wildlife Act has been under review for almost 10 years. Last October, ICABS met Minister Higgins, responsible for the Wildlife Service, and were told the bill would be enacted this year. This now seems unlikely. In response to a recent Dail question, the Minister said that the bill is at present being drafted and he hopes to introduce it to the Oireachtas in the autumn.
In the new Act, penalties for crime against wildlife are set to increase drastically.
ICABS made a detailed submission to the Minister, regarding all forms of blood 'sports' and cruel hunting methods, bestowing protection on animals that are not protected (e.g. red fox), and banning otter hunting outright.
We also feel that it is a grave injustice that hunters are represented on the Wildlife Advisory Council while animal welfare groups are not.
We now await the publication of the bill to see if our suggestions have been incorporated. Minister Higgins, who is sympathetic to our cause, is up against a lot of opposition from those representing hunters' interests.
Foxhunter bid to take over SPCA?
There is some disturbing evidence of an attempt by pro-blood sports enthusiasts to take over (some would say regain) control of the ISPCA. In the last 12 months, field sports and blood sports supporters have been joining the RSPCA in the UK in droves. Not out of a sudden surge in compassion for animals but simply to cast their vote at the AGM to vote in a pro-blood sports committee and overturn the RSPCA's present position against foxhunting. The RSPCA is powerless to prevent this because it is a charity. The structure of the ISPCA differs from that of the RSPCA and it is important to understand a little of the make-up and history of the ISPCA.
There are SPCAs in most counties in Ireland. These SPCAs came together to form the ISPCA in 1949 which thus consists of about two dozen affiliated societies. The ISPCA has a governing council which decides policy. Each affiliated SPCA has a delegate which may attend and vote at this council. Voting powers at an AGM are restricted to the delegates of the affiliated societies. Thus, although associate members of the ISPCA may attend AGMs (and other general meetings) it is only delegates who may vote. This is an important distinction from the RSPCA. One unusual aspect of the ISPCA structure is that the affiliated SPCAs don't have common constitutions or rules of operation - they are all autonomous societies. The ISPCA is a registered charity but the affiliated societies are not. So what has changed recently? The answer is the new ISPCA policy document.
In the past, each society, being autonomous, could do its own thing and make its own comments on issues of animal welfare which could conflict with ISPCA policy. Thus there was the example in the early 1990s of a local SPCA supporting a pig race at a country fair after it had been condemned by the ISPCA executive. Several SPCAs have committees full of foxhunting and hare coursing supporters and have promoted blood sports in public even though they are condemned by ISPCA policy.
In the past two years, the ISPCA executive has recognised the flaws in such a structure and has produced the new ISPCA policy document which is a wide ranging and comprehensive document spelling out for the first time the societies' position on animal welfare issues. The ISPCA constitution now requires affiliated societies to fully endorse this policy document to make the society a more cohesive organisation. The member societies must openly support specifics on policy and it is this new factor which has caused the problems for the foxhunters. They can no longer support foxhunting and yet claim to be opposed to "cruelty to animals" on the grounds that "foxhunting is not cruel." The new policy document specifically outlaws foxhunting (and other activities). This does not mean that foxhunters cannot fully participate in animal welfare work; it means that an affiliated society can no longer have policies at variance with ISPCA policies.
The only option available to the foxhunters is either to overturn ISPCA policy so that foxhunting is no longer condemned (which would not be easy for a society which is supposed to be against cruelty) or to amend the constitution so that affiliated societies can go back to doing their own thing. This latter option is clear favourite, and indeed an attempt was made to amend the constitution to this effect at last year's AGM but narrowly failed. Not enough of the delegates were pro-foxhunting.
Currently, pro-field sports activists seem to be targeting specific SPCAs with pro-foxhunting sympathies to ensure that pro-blood sports delegates are sent to the ISPCA and such a vote will not fail in the future. They are attending AGMs in large numbers, not to offer their services in the cause of animal welfare but to ensure that pro-hunting people are elected to the committees. This has the dual effect of supporting hunting and preventing genuine animal welfare workers (who are thin enough on the ground as it is) from making contributions to their societies. A very good example of such an SPCA is the North Tipperary SPCA (NTSPCA). This particular society is heavily populated by foxhunters and it recently expelled all anti-foxhunting committee members at an EGM in May.
What will happen to a society such as NTSPCA which is clearly in breach of the ISPCA constitution? We're not sure how the ISPCA will handle this matter, but one option appears to be that a vote will be called at a council meeting on whether to expel them. A two thirds majority is needed for expulsion and the NTSPCA will have a vote! Sadly there are enough societies like NTSPCA to ensure that the two thirds majority will not be achieved. When it comes to the vote, it is almost certain that a secret ballot will be called for by the pro-foxhunters so that they don't have to declare their allegiance publicly, but can continue to work for hunting in secret.
This has very serious implications for animal welfare. When foxhunters take over control of the ISPCA it will be totally hamstrung. Would foxhunters speak on the welfare of farm animals (transportation, battery rearing, etc) when it might upset their farming friends whose support they need to continue foxhunting? Will they condemn badger diggers when fox diggers are out with the hunts? Will they even attempt to alleviate the plight of discarded greyhounds if this upsets their coursing friends? Those dedicated to animal welfare work who are also opposed to blood sports will be rejected by a pro-foxhunting executive.
The ISPCA will be taken over by the hunters. Those who have encountered them in local SPCAs know that they are powerful, influential, and ruthlessly single-minded in their determination to support foxhunting. Once in command, the ISPCA will return to its old say nothing, do nothing attitudes to animal welfare.
Quotes from the ISPCA policy document
The aim of the ISPCA is to prevent cruelty to animals, to promote animal welfare and to relieve the suffering of animals in Ireland. The Society supports the aims of similarly minded animal welfare bodies throughout the world.
We believe that man has a responsibility to care for the earth and all creatures on it; that each creature has an intrinsic value entirely independent of its value to man and should be respected and protected. We believe that animals have a right to live their lives free from avoidable suffering at the hands of man and that man has a duty to provide for their welfare.
The ISPCA is opposed to the use of animals in sport or for entertainment when such use is contrary to the animals' nature, or may involve suffering or may adversely affect the animals' welfare...The society opposes any activities that involve pitting animals or humans against animals in fights.
How the "antis" were expelled from the NTSPCA
In April this year North Tipperary SPCA (NTSPCA) held its AGM in a local hotel. The normal number of 28 people attended.
To allow some changes to its constitution, an EGM was called in May. The hotel was advised that 150 people were expected and the ballroom was booked.
At the meeting voting cards were used for the first time A pile of at least 200 were prepared.
One hundred people turned up, many of them hunting or coursing supporters with their families.
You can walk into a general meeting of the NTSPCA, pay a joining fee (which is unspecified and could be as little as £1) and then be entitled to vote at the meeting. If you have enough friends you could be elected to the committee.
At this EGM, the new committee was elected by voting. All the anti-fox-hunting committee members (5 in all) were voted off by the same majority, even though they were not known to the voters. Among those removed were the treasurer and vice-chairperson, who was responsible for the recent initiation of a sponsored neutering scheme.
The five removed were among the most active fund-raisers and their loss will seriously affect the work of the society.
One new committee member was elected - the mother of a local hunt master. The hunt master's wife, a whipper-in of the hunt, is already on the committee. The chairman stated that this new committee member would be the new secretary of the NTSPCA.
During this EGM a motion stating "that hare coursing is incompatible with aims of the society" was overwhelmingly rejected.
Another motion to fully accept the ISPCA policy document was also overwhelmingly defeated.
What They Said
Laois: At this year's AGM of Laois SPCA, a motion that "No committee member should take part in or knowingly support foxhunting, hare coursing or otter hunting" was rejected by 19 votes to 10). In the last two years, large numbers of foxhunters have been attending meetings.
Westmeath: "At the end of 1994, Miss Vandeleur, speaking for the Westmeath SPCA on a local Radio 3 debate on foxhunting, said that she approves of foxhunting and that she had agreed with every thing that the Master of Laois Foxhounds had said in the debate." (Westmeath Topic, December, 1994).
North Tipperary: "Mr Todd Brereton, Secretary of the NTSPCA, told the Irish Times that he supported foxhunting. He said that those who opposed the practice knew nothing about nature or animals and called hunting opponents 'ignorant city-dwellers'...Mr Brereton claims most SPCAs committee members openly support hunting and that those calling for the resignations of pro-hunting officials 'hadn't a chance'." (Irish Times, 20th February 1996).
New label for "green" wood
The world's forests are in crisis. Destruction of wild forest habitats for the timber trade has led to the extinction of many animal and plant species. The number of extinctions grows daily.
However, a lot of wood is grown in well managed sustainable forests all over the world where timber production does not contribute to this mass destruction. To help consumers tell which wood products have come from well managed forests the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) have introduced a new certification symbol, the 'Tick Tree'.
Sponsored by conservation groups, including the WWF, social groups and some industry, the tick tree symbol will tell you instantly if the wood has come from an FSC certificated forest. All products that contain wood or pulp, from tables to paper and nappies can carry the tick tree. If you want to help save the world's remaining forest habitats then ask for FSC-certificated materials. Create a demand and spread the word.
Historical UK wild mammal act
The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act, originally drafted by the UK's League Against Cruel Sports became law on 30 April this year. For the first time in the history of the UK, wild mammals have official protection against acts of brutality. The act makes it an offence for any person to mutilate, kick, beat, nail or otherwise impale, stab, burn, stone, crush, drown, drag or asphyxiate any wild mammal with the infliction of unnecessary suffering. There are exceptions in that it is not an offence to kill "in a reasonably swift and humane manner" an animal that has been injured in lawful shooting, hunting, coursing or pest control activity. Punishment can be in the form of a fine, with maximum penalties set at £5,000 sterling or six months imprisonment for each wild animal that suffered in the offence. If, for example, the offence was against three animals, then the maximum fine would be £15,000. Our congratulations go to the League Against Cruel Sports and to Alan Meale MP who presented the act to parliament.
Over 100 Eurasian lynx culled in Norway
Not content with slaughtering basking sharks, whales and seal cubs, the Norwegian Government has authorised the killing of over 100 Eurasian lynx despite the fact that only 500 remain in the country.
The action is in response to complaints from farmers who lose livestock to the lynx and is granted despite the fact that farmers are fully compensated for any loss of stock.
It has been suggested that the farmers hope to gain financially by selling the pelts of the slaughtered cats. Whilst selling the pelts is illegal, possession is not, making the law difficult to enforce.
The loss of such a large proportion of the population is very serious as it threatens to reduce numbers to critical levels in some areas and irreparably damage the biodiversity within it.
Sadly, very short notice was given of the impending slaughter and much of the damage will be done by now. The worst suffering will have been by young cubs who will have slowly starved to death if their mothers were among the victims.
British Government poisons more squirrels
The British Government recently announced a decision to extend the Warfarin poising of grey squirrels into areas where red squirrels still exist.
This could be a disaster for wildlife conservation and accelerate the demise of red squirrels and other declining or rare mammals such as stoats, weasels, polecats and pine martens. Warfarin causes a miserable death to squirrels which suffer from excruciating pain and death if they knock a joint whilst moving among the trees.
Officially the action is being taken to preserve the red squirrel but British wildlife campaigners believe that it is as a result of pressure from timber growers to control squirrel numbers. The Countryside Council for Wales plan to poison 1,000 grey squirrels despite the fact that only 11 red squirrels have been seen in recent years.
British animal rights campaigners suggest that the much publicised Save the Reds campaign may be nothing more than an attempt to manipulate public opinion into accepting greater persecution of grey squirrels.
Maisie Fitter, editor and conservationist, dies aged 83
Maisie Fitter was born in Cumbria in 1912 and brought up in Yorkshire. She studied history at Bedford College, London and, after graduating in 1934, began a career in journalism. In 1963, she became editor of Oryx, now Fauna and Flora International, turning it into one of the liveliest and most respected journals in the field of international conservation.
Under her leadership the journal campaigned on important conservation issues, including one of the first reports on the threat to the otter in Britain. On retiring from Oryx in 1982, Maisie created Species, the journal of the Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union. She travelled over all five continents and, despite being unfashionable at the time, was steadfast in her belief that species survival was an important aspect of conservation. She ended up as one of the Commission's Members of Honour and as an Officer of the Order of the Golden Ark.
Maisie was also a founder member of the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Naturalists Trust - one of the first of the wildlife trusts which now cover the whole of Britain. She became chair of the trust at a time when chairwomen were still rather unusual.
Maisie Fitter, born 5th December 1912; died 9th April, 1996.
Fur fair cancelled in Switzerland
The co-operation of various animal rights organisers in Switzerland has led to the cancellation of an international fur fair which was to be held last March in Lausanne. The fair, which was expected to attract 10,000 people, was cancelled after a successful postcard campaign and a petition by the people of Lausanne who did not want their city to become the international capital of the fur trade.
Europe's first female matador
On the weekend of 18th May 1996, Christina Sanchez entered the bullfighting arena in Nimes, southern France and slaughtered a mature bull for the first time. In doing so she became Europe's first female matador. It is not clear why the ceremony did not take place in Spain but certainly many of her male colleagues are furious about the intrusion into a world they regard as their own. Perhaps they feel that the association between bullfighting and male virility and sexuality will be broken, exposing the reality of their cruelty.
Shark rescue fails
Rescuers in Wales failed to save a 14ft basking shark which was beached on the shoreline at Tenby. When the animal was found it was still alive so rescuers brought a large tank of water to keep the shark alive in until they could return it to the sea. Rescuers attempted to revive the animal by supporting it in the water and encouraging it to swim. They then attached it to a rigid inflatable boat to help its buoyancy and aid recovery. Sadly, all the efforts were to no avail and the shark died.
Campaign to end cruel traps
MEPs continued their campaign to abolish lethal leghold traps. They overwhelmingly rejected (407 to 33, with 14 abstentions) a Commission move to delay the entry into force of EU legislation outlawing the imports of fur caught in such traps. The ban was due to come into force on 1st January 1996, but the Commission acted following protests from Canada and the USA, who threatened to challenge it as a breach of world trade order rules. It is now up to ministers to take a position before the proposal comes back to Parliament for a second reading. (European Parliament News, 17th June, 1996).
"I have always felt that the way we treat animals is a pretty good indicator of the compassion we are capable of feeling for the human race." Ali McGraw (Actress)
Willy flies towards freedom
Successful campaigning by the Free Willy Foundation has led to a 17-year-old killer whale called Keiko, used in the feature film Free Willy, taking his first journey towards freedom.
In January this year, the 3-tonne Keiko was transported by air from his cramped pool at an amusement park outside Mexico City to a purpose-built rehabilitation centre in Oregon, USA. It is hoped that after extensive rehabilitation he will eventually be released back into the ocean.
Ten years at the Mexican park had left Keiko underweight with warts on his skin and a drooping dorsal fin. After growing criticism of the conditions in which the animal was being kept, eventually $7.3 million was raised to build Keiko's new pool. (Animals International, Summer 1996).
Britain's farmers offer superb future for drag hunting
When foxhunting and similar blood "sports" are outlawed, tens of thousands of farmers will open up their land for the humane alternative of drag hunting, according to a new NOP poll of farmers. (Drag Hunting, NOP Consumer Market Research, NOP/44811, May 1996).
The poll revealed that 48 per cent of farmers do not allow the hunting of wild animals with hounds on their land but that one in six of 'anti-hunt' farmers, would permit such hunts if they switched to drag hunting in which hounds and riders "hunt" an artificial trail instead of a wild animal. In all, 30 per cent of farmers said they would allow drag hunting, 14 per cent were "not sure" and 56 per cent would not - the majority citing "damage to land" and "disruption of farming" for their rejection of any form of hunting.
The poll totally disproves the British Field Sports Society's claims that "the vast majority" support fox hunting and would not agree to access by drag hunts "because drag hunts do not kill foxes". In fact, only 8 per cent of farmers who would not allow access to drag hunts, gave the absence of fox killing as a reason.
Extrapolation of the results of NOP's poll of 1,000 farmers indicates that at least 60,000 farmers would agree to drag hunts using their land in the event of foxhunting being banned by Parliament. This would allow all 200 existing fox hunts to switch to the humane alternative, drag hunting, with each hunt on average retaining access to farmland equivalent in size to 300 times the size of London's St James's Park!
John Bryant, the Head of Press and Research for the League Against Cruel Sports, says: "The poll proves that Parliament can safely enact legislation to outlaw the hunting of wild animals with dogs without making any hunt staff, hounds or horses redundant. Since 1965, forty two hunts have closed down, while drag hunts and bloodhound packs have nearly trebled to 22. It is clear that any Government interested in preserving rural employment and traditions, should put dying blood sports out of their misery and encourage the increasingly popular and humane alternatives."
The League is sure that one of the reasons so many farmers would welcome drag hunting is that the trail can be laid in co-operation with farming practices, whereas packs of hounds following wild animals frequently disturb livestock, damage crops, kill family pets and cause traffic accidents. The League has extensive evidence of such disruption of rural life, but cannot find one case of any pack of drag hounds or blood hounds causing such problems while hunting. (League Against Cruel Sports, 9th July 1996)
ICABS people: Barry Greene
From ICABS campaigner to finance manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature
Remember Barry Greene? As our vice-president some years ago, Barry was prominent in the hare coursing and otter hunting issues, as an observer and spokesperson. He resigned his ICABS role when he moved to Switzerland in 1989 where he works with WWF - the World Wide Fund For Nature - the world's leading conservation organisation.
He tells us that the WWF is active in 140 countries all over the globe, promoting the sustainable use of the Earth's natural resources and seeking to preserve species and habitats for the benefit of future generations. It raises funding from governments, companies and individuals, mainly in developed countries, in the form of donations, sponsorship of WWF projects and from the use of WWF's Panda logo - one of the best known international trademarks - on products from watches to breakfast cereal. WWF invests these funds in conservation work in places such as Africa, Madagascar, Indonesia, Nepal, China, Eastern Europe, South America - just a few examples of WWF's truly worldwide mission.
Did you know that Madagascar is one of the world's most biodiverse countries having the highest density of species, many believed to hold the key to future medical breakthroughs? Here, and elsewhere, WWF's approach is to work with indigenous peoples to establish techniques for the long-term use of resources, rather than their short term exploitation. For example, building tourism around the rainforest and its wildlife is a far better proposition than cutting it down for export, both for the local economy and for its climatic impact for the rest of the world - we can all win.
In parallel with such work, WWF's advocates seek to influence government and corporate policy on matters such as whaling, CFC (and other) emissions, timber production, fisheries management, and the inclusion of environmental costs in the measurement of countries' economic performance.
Barry says that for him, WWF offers a rare opportunity to apply his professional skills to an objective of such keen personal interest - the safekeeping of the earth for our children and their children. A Chartered Accountant and seasoned finance manager, his role is to plan and monitor WWF's finances from its world headquarters near Geneva, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
"Here in Geneva we have 130 people, of 31 different nationalities (two of them Irish and both from Cork!), so it is a very multi-cultural environment, which I enjoy. On the other hand, the size and global spread of WWF's activities mean that it has to be managed like any other successful multi-national, and this of course creates the same challenges and pressures found in commercial organisations of similar scale. However, the end-product does provide a certain satisfaction," he says.
"For as long as I can remember I have been interested in nature and the future of our planet. You do not need to be an expert for this and I am certainly not one. But with some sense of justice and concern for our fellow inhabitants, now and in the future, it is impossible to ignore this issue. I wish ICABS continued success in promoting fair play for the wildlife of Ireland" - words of encouragement from an old friend.
Further information of WWF can be found on the Internet at its World Wide Web 'home-page': http://www.panda.org.
Bullfighting on the increase but the opposition grows
Bullfighting is not a sport, it is a form of torture for amusement. Sadly, it is also on the increase throughout the world. A new bullfighting arena is proposed in Toulouse, France, although it is opposed by the Mayor. A Brazilian entrepreneur, of Spanish descent, is trying to organise a meeting in Brazil. This is supported by the Spanish consulate although the Brazilian Constitution condemns torture to animals. The total number of bullfights in Spain has risen from 440 in 1986 to 803 in 1995. Young people are being drawn into bullfighting in large numbers, attracted by the "hero" status that famous bullfighters are afforded and the television coverage in both Spain and France. This has resulted in the marked increase of Novilladas (bullfights performed by apprentice bullfighters). Private bullfights are now being offered where the whole family can participate in the bullfight at a low price, leaving the bull in the hands of total novices who make the animal suffer for even longer.
The real reason for the upsurge in bullfighting is tourism. The majority of tourists visiting Spain for the first time do not leave without witnessing a Corrida. The price of entrance is often included in their holiday pack. Readers of Hemingway expect to see a majestic duel between a courageous, dextrous, matador and a ferocious bull, but instead witness a horror show of cruelty and humiliation. However, words like majesty and courage are soon replaced by disgust, shock and abhorrence. Six bulls are killed at each corrida, the majority of tourists leave the ring after the death of the first. Outside they complain about the deception by their tourist agencies and the media who omit references to the real nature of bullfighting.
Animal welfare groups world-wide are coming together to oppose bullfighting. In 1995 the first international anti-bullfighting conference was organised by the WSPA in Mexico, one of the most pro-bullfighting countries in Latin America. This was a great success. Delegates from all over the world came together to discuss issues and co-ordinate a universal anti-bullfighting campaign. The next conference is planned for October 1996.
ABC International, Spain, also organised a meeting of anti-bullfighting groups within Europe. Again, the need to work through effective international campaigns was highlighted. As part of this, the British RSPCA offered legal support to solve the issue of EU subsidies for breeding fighting bulls. On February 14th this year, the EU agriculture commissioner, Franz Fischler, presented his proposal to change the current system which would exclude breeders of fighting bulls from receiving this subsidy. This would stem the flow of money to the breeders which has allowed them to promote their business through the mass media.
ICABS, of course, has had its own success. Protests outside the Dublin and Cork branches of JWT Holidays, scheduled for last year's World Day Against Bullfighting, were called off when the company said that they would not carry references to bullfighting in next year's brochures. Their decision has not only been applauded by ICABS but by ABC International in their publications all over the world. (Source: ABC International).
Bull killers the target for ICABS summer campaign 1996
Following the success of last year's anti-bullfighting campaign, ICABS is set to launch a new campaign this summer aimed at holiday-makers. An information leaflet, to be distributed at Dublin and Cork Airports, will urge Irish holiday-makers travelling to Spain to boycott bullfighting.
The campaign is being supported by Budget Travel Ltd who, after an appeal from ICABS, agreed to display anti-bullfighting leaflets in retail outlets where customers booking holiday will have access to them. Budget Travel were the sole respondents from a recent appeal to Irish travel agents and ICABS congratulates them on their very positive response. A spokesman from Budget Travel commented: "We do not advertise bullfighting in any of our brochure publications and have no plans to do so in the future. I consider bullfighting to be extremely cruel and most staff would be equally against this 'sport'."
If you want to do something, why not write to your MEP and the Spanish Ambassador to Ireland, Senor Fermin Zelada at the Spanish Embassy, asking them to introduce laws protecting bulls. Alternatively, why not holiday in Italy where bullfighting was outlawed in 1993!
Bullfighting is promoted as a noble fight between a ferocious bull and a brave matador. What follows is the truth.
To minimise the risk to the matador, the bull's senses are blurred by smearing Vaseline into its eyes and placing cotton wool into its ears and nostrils, hampering its breathing. Needles are stuck into its genitals and its horns may have been shaved, reducing the risk to the matador and disorientating the animal.
The bull enters the arena. Men on foot, the toreadors, run the bull around the arena, never far from the safety of wooden barriers, tiring the bull before the onset of the real torture. The picador enters the ring on horseback and begins to cut and tear the tissue of the bull with a long lance. Blood pours from these wounds and the animal becomes weaker and weaker. Next, a man enters the arena on foot and, one by one, thrusts six arrows into the torn flesh around the bull's shoulders. When the bull is in agony, scared, confused and suffering heavy blood loss, the matador enters the ring.
The matador coaxes the bull into making several passes at his cape, red in colour to hide the blood stains. At the last pass, the matador forces a three foot long sword into the lacerated flesh between the bull's shoulders. The aim is to pierce the animal's heart, killing it outright, but the matador is rarely successful. Often the lungs are pierced and blood flows into them through internal haemorrhages. So much blood can enter the lungs that the bull drowns. Often, the animal is stabbed repeatedly until it collapses, vomiting pools of blood onto the arena floor. If the animal is still alive, a knife is stuck into its neck to sever the spine, immobilising it, before the final humiliation of having its ears and tail cut off and thrown to the crowd. The bull dies - twenty minutes after it entered the arena.
A new basking shark fishery in the Republic of Ireland?
The world's second largest fish, the basking shark, is an impressive but harmless plankton eating giant which used to be very common in Irish waters. However, populations are declining in temperate seas throughout the world. The cause is not clear but overfishing seems to be a major factor. Sharks are hunted for their livers and their fins which can fetch 200 dollars a pound in the shark fin soup trade. The rest of the animal is often thrown back into the sea.
There have been two well noted basking shark fisheries in Ireland; Sunfish Bank and Achill Island. The Sunfish Bank fishery took large numbers of sharks from 1770 to 1830 when sharks became scarce. A shore-based net fishery began on Achill Island in the late 1940s and boomed for several years. However, despite increasing prices for shark oil and the introduction of harpooning, the fishery went into decline. There has been no significant recovery of the population in either area.
More recently the Norwegians have caught basking sharks around Ireland. An Irish fisheries official, in a private conversation with a member of ICABS staff, said that there were so few sharks left that it was no longer worthwhile for the Norwegians to hunt in Irish waters. He described the demise of the shark as "a tragedy".
The last known fishery from British or Irish waters was operated from Scotland. As with the Irish fisheries, the local population of basking sharks declined and the number caught dwindled to 37 tonnes (approximately 10 fish) in 1993 and 10 fish in 1994. As a result, the Scottish fisherman decided to sell his harpoons. It is understood by ICABS that at least one harpoon was sold to a fisherman in the Irish Republic.
Male basking sharks do not achieve sexual maturity until they are 5-7m (16.5 - 23 feet) long. Females are not mature until they are at least 8m (26 feet) long. This represents about 12-16 years in males and up to 20 years in females. The gestation period is unknown but females are thought to carry their offspring for between 1-3 years and may rest for a year after giving birth. All this points to a species which invests heavily in each of its offspring and so cannot recover from the high levels of mortality that a fishery represents.
It is possible that the basking shark is becoming an endangered species. The problem is how do we know? There is little scientific evidence to show what the population of sharks is and none to indicate how many could be taken in a sustainable fishery. A report from the world conservation union (IUCN) has predicted a world wide population reduction in basking sharks over the next 40 or 50 years and classed the species as vulnerable to extinction throughout its range. However, in some parts of its range, where commercial fisheries have occurred in the past or are still operational, the situation is worse. In Irish waters it is considered endangered.
The sensible solution is to stop killing basking sharks, at least until further information about the shark is gathered. If the sight of these enormous beasts is not to become a thing of the past then action must be taken to protect them. You can help by reporting your sightings to the Basking Shark Survey and raising the issue with your TD.
ICABS staff are continuing investigations into fishing for basking sharks around Ireland. If anybody has any information please contact the ICABS office. Calls will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
Source: Shark News, March 1996, page 4; the Marine Conservation Society, UK; The Basking Shark Survey, Ireland; National Geographic, 188(5), page 143.
Other sharks in danger
In the past, much of the media would have us believe that sharks are silent, blood lusting man eaters, hell bent on consuming every swimmer that they come across. The truth is that there are about 100 shark attacks each year, about thirty of which prove to be fatal. This is a fraction of the people that are killed by lightning, bee stings or big cats. Most shark attacks are provoked by people grabbing, chasing or otherwise intimidating the shark; most unprovoked attacks are thought to be defensive rather than offensive. The truth is that sharks are in great danger from people. The WWF estimates that humans kill 100 million sharks each year and that many species, including the great white and some hammerheads are in danger of being wiped out. The great white shark now has some form of protection in South Africa, California and Australia and is an officially protected species in Tasmanian waters. In 1994 the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) resolved to improve the international collection of data on sharks. It is hoped that information gathered will help to improve shark conservation world-wide. Other conservation groups are trying to monitor the global trade in shark products and to protect shark habitats. You can do your bit by being aware, and if you see a basking shark, please report it to the Basking Shark Survey, Department of Zoology, University College Cork.
Sally: a seal saga
By Frank Mulreany MVB MRCVS
In the first part of this two part feature, Frank, a vet from Donegal, talks about Sally, a seal that changed his life.
On July 17, 1994, I was called to attend a young seal pup that had stranded on a nearby beach. Though I did not know at the time, this young and beautiful creature was to change absolutely my lifestyle and introduce me to a whole new spectrum of friends.
It was a common seal, about two to three weeks old, a female and we called her Sally. She was not in good shape. She was emaciated - you could see her ribs - dehydrated and her eyes were semi-opaque. She needed attention. Though I had treated seals before, I had never seen one so young. Phone calls to the right sources brought abundant and expert advice, initially from Brendan Price at the Irish Seal Sanctuary and subsequently from the Sea Rehabilitation and Research Centre in Petershaven, Holland.
Initial treatment consisted of rehydration therapy, the provision of suitable nutrients with the monitoring of body temperature and functions and, of course, the treatment of her condition, which in this case responded to antibiotic therapy. Feeding was administered by stomach tube every four hours and consisted of set proportions of liquidised fish and rehydration fluids. As Sally progressed in weight she moved on to eating sprat and then to herring and mackerel.
Sally spent her first night in the house beside my bed where I keep an eye on her. She has since, of course, taken over the whole house and goes where she likes. Her favourite haunt, if I neglect to close the bedroom door, is under the bed. It takes fairly aggressive persuasion with a sweeping brush to remove her and, as I don't always have the heart to treat her like this, she has spent many a night under my bed.
Sally gets to swim in a disused swimming pool at the sea shore nearby where the water is changed twice daily by the action of the tide. When time does not permit that, I exercise her in a small portable pool at the house. This pool is also used if I have to leave home for any length of time. Sally stands on the floor of the van along with the dismantled pool and plenty of cool boxes filled with frozen fish and chunks of ice. On arrival the pool is re-assembled to facilitate Sally.
So, all in all, the hand rearing of a seal is not a job to be undertaken lightly. Do I regret it? Of course not! Would I do it again? Gladly! Rearing Sally has been the most rewarding experience that I have had as a vet.
People ask me if I feel proud. The answer is an emphatic "no"; on the contrary, rearing Sally has been a humbling experience. I have had the opportunity to observe one of nature's miracles develop before my eyes; if I have been able to lend a hand when needed then that has been my privilege.
Humane whaling - the issue that could save whales forever
The International Whaling commission (IWC) is the recognised body for the management of whales and a forum for debate. The purpose of the group is "to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry". The main duty of the IWC is to review and revise measures which govern the whaling industry. This includes the way in which whales are killed. The IWC has the power to ban the use of particularly cruel ways of killing whales. In 1981 it banned the use of cold harpoon method, for all species except the little minke. This too was banned in 1982.
Whale hunters now use the grenade harpoon. When the whale is hit the tip of the harpoon explodes, blowing iron shrapnel into its tissues and internal organs. About 30 - 50 per cent of whales are killed instantly, whilst this is, at best, barbaric, it is the most humane way of killing whales developed so far. Those whales that are not killed instantly face being hauled to the side of the boat and being either shot or electrocuted with an electric lance. Recent studies of Japanese whaling operations have shown that electrocution is an extremely inhumane and ineffective killing method. The application is unreliable and is likely to inflict great pain and suffering on an already injured and distressed animal.
At the 1994 IWC meeting a resolution was passed expressing deep concern over the use of the electric lance. In 1995 further information was presented regarding the use of the electric lance. Both the Japanese and the Norwegians questioned the validity of this research and created a smoke screen large enough to persuade member governments not to support a ban on the use of the electric lance. Instead of a ban, a resolution was passed which called for the suspension of its use until the 1996 meeting when it would be fully reviewed.
Humane whaling is a welfare issue which seeks to protect whales not only from extinction but from unnecessary cruelty as well. In many of the countries represented at the IWC the root of opposition to killing whales is based upon the cruelty and suffering of the killing process rather than the threatened status of many whale species. However, few of the governments represented at the IWC take the issue seriously. If the issue of humane whaling can be established as a significant topic then it will aid opposition to the resumption of commercial whaling in the future. If cruel methods of killing whales are banned then it is up to the nations that wish to hunt whales to find humane ones. If they cannot do so, then they should not be allowed to kill whales at all.
It is vital that the issue of humane whaling is adopted by as many people, conservation groups and governments as possible. This may be the only way that the world moratorium on whaling will be continued. As the population of Minke whales increases to a level where they are no longer endangered, a moratorium on killing them will not be enforced on the grounds of species preservation alone. The adoption of humane whaling and of banning cruel ways of killing them may be the only way to protect them in the future. Norway and Japan are pressing for a return to authorised commercial whaling of Minke whales and other countries may follow their lead as populations increase.
by Grant March
Genetic Engineering (GE) is a technique (often hit and miss) which alters the characteristics of life forms. By mixing DNA from different species, the traditional borders distinguishing plants, animals and humans are becoming blurred.
Advocates of GE point to potential cures for disease and "improved" farm animals and crops.
However, many of the scientific milestones have been to create animals which automatically develop a human-like disease on which drugs can be tested.
GE can determine whether or not a life form is prone to developing a disease. Should the disease never manifest itself or should there be no cure, it is possible that life forms may be discriminated against due to their genes.
There are no labelling laws in the EU to enforce food producers to label products developed from or with genetically modified organisms.
The concept of ownership of life forms is entering our world. Patents have been filed for both animals "designed" to die and for human tissue.
To date there has been very little public debate in GE. Considering the rate of development of GE this debate must happen sooner rather than later.
This article is a collection of pieces from various magazines and newspapers with thought provoking questions alongside. Read it and draw your own conclusions.
What is it?
How genes work
DNA determines the characteristics of any living thing. Genes are composed of DNA. In general each gene contains information specifying the structure of a specific proteins. The proteins are responsible for performing the chemical reactions which go on in cells. It is in this way that the development of an animal or a plant is controlled.
In the same way that it does not really matter what type of recorder we use to play an audio cassette - it will always produce the same music whether it is played on a walkman or an expensive hi-fi system - it is also irrelevant what cell is used to "read" a gene. The human insulin gene leads to the production of the insulin protein molecule irrespective of whether it is "played" in human cells, in fly cells, in yeast cells or in bacteria cells. (Ref 1).
Is it ethically correct to mix DNA from different species? Is any consideration of the animal's welfare taken into account?
Making a "new" animal
Transgenic animals carry genes from another species or extra copies of a gene from the same species. Usually injected into a fertilised egg, the foreign genes integrate at random into the existing genetic material. The production of such animals is largely a hit or miss affair. Researchers cannot yet ensure that the foreign gene inserts itself in one specific place in the animal's genetic material, nor can they control precisely the number of copies of the foreign gene that end up in the host animal. (Ref 2).
How many animals are used in these hit or miss experiments before they are called a "success"? Are experiments of such random nature justifiable?
Experiments showed that if you can get more of a particular amino acid into a sheep, it makes more wool. This will enable farmers to make the same profit with half as many sheep. (Ref 3)
What are the costs to the sheep pushed to its biological limits? In America, where a GE growth hormone, BST, is routinely used to increase milk yield, cows are more prone to mastitis.
Australian researchers are trying to produce sheep that are resistant to blowfly larvae. They focused on an enzyme found in tobacco that attacks the cuticle of the larvae. Giving sheep a gene for this enzyme may kill the larvae and remove the need to use pesticides. (Ref 3).
Those in favour of GE often claim that it is "simply an extension of selective breeding". Have you ever seen a sheep try to breed with a tobacco plant?
Mentally deficient mice
One of the latest products is a mouse that has problems remembering where it is, thanks to the targeted destruction of single gene. GE could strive to create animals that suffer less in cages or confined pens because their ability to learn, remember and perceive their environment has been genetically impaired. GE could compromise the welfare of livestock if they create animals with physical or mental deficiency which make them easier to farm. (Ref 3).
Is it ethically correct to "create" animals with mental deficiencies, destroying selected genes?
Farmers add that patents on modified animals would also put a stop to the traditional breeding practices, whereby a farmer who pays for the services of a breeding animal owns the offspring. Animals bred from a patented animal would belong to the person who owns the patent, not the farmer. (Ref 4).
What goes around comes around?
The human mouse
Systemix have laboratory mice that have been born without an immune system. This permits technicians to introduce still-living tissue from aborted foetuses [or adult human cadavers] without it being rejected as foreign. The result is claimed as a biological first: a properly functioning human immune system inside another species. The mice are then infected with the AIDS virus or other bugs and plied with experimental drugs to see if any have a beneficial effect. Some 400 humanised mice are produced every month and says Mosier, "We are using them up as fast as we can make them." (Ref 5).
Should these Frankenstein-like experiments using cells from aborted foetuses and dead humans be allowed? Are the experimental deaths of 400 mice a month to screen drugs justified?
Creating genetic defects
Scientists doing basic research in knockout techniques to explore the function of a particular gene, alter an animal's DNA to see what happens. In applied research the goal is often to produce a mouse or rat with a genetic defect that models a human disease, so the animal can be used to test possible treatments. Three groups recently announced the birth of a knockout mouse that develops cystic fibrosis. (Ref 3).
Transgenic mice have been produced that are more likely to develop blood clots. It is suggested that these animals could be used for the screening of anti-clotting drugs. (Ref 6).
Ethically can the GE of disease into animals be condoned? Can this "success" have other applications?
Harvard University and Du Pont Chemicals modified a mouse's genes to make the animal susceptible to cancer. The university was granted a patent on this "invention" in the US. In 1992 the European Patent Office granted a patent on the oncomouse. Opposition hearings were held in November 1995. The EPO hearings broke up in disarray without any decision.
Should patents, a vehicle for making money, be allowed on animals "designed" to die from cancer?
Living chemical factories
Farm animals bearing foreign genes can also act as "bioreactors" to produce human medicines cheaply. Pharmaceutical Proteins has produced a transgenic sheep that secretes into their milk a human protein. This substance may prove to be an effective treatment for the lung disease euphysema. (Ref 3).
What is the cost to the animal in producing "cheap" medicine?
A heart of pig
Organ transplants from pigs into people are ethically acceptable, the government was told by the Huffield Council on Bioethics. Imutran has bred a herd of transgenic pigs which have been given human hormones to overcome the problem of "hyper acute rejection" which would otherwise destroy their organs after transplant into humans. Monkeys have survived for up to 2 months after receiving Imutran pig hearts. (Ref 7).
Have the public been consulted on the ethics of using pig organs as spare parts for humans? How can a monkey's life curtailed from years to 2 months, due to an unnecessary heart transplant, be justified?
"...the undeniable success of this new science has an extremely intoxicating and exhilarating effect." Prof biochemistry, University of Munich, Ernst Winnaker. (Ref 1).
Is it possible some scientists may get "carried away" by their research?
"I wondered what I would say to my grandchildren if they asked me why I had done this kind of work. It didn't seem an adequate answer to say, "Well, it looked very interesting and I got the proposal through the ethics committee." A psychiatrist who gave up his work in genetics of intelligence. (Ref 8).
"We are heading toward human husbandry in which embryos will be mass produced for experimental purposes." Prof Biochemistry, Columbia University Medical School, Dr Edwin Chaff. (Ref 9). Aldous Huxley predicts this in his novel "A Brave New World".
Who owns our body?
John Moore, a leukaemia sufferer had his spleen removed. Scientists later found that his spleen produced a remarkable blood protein. The university hospital has patented the white blood cells and two companies, Genetics Institute and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals intend to develop drugs from the cells. (Ref 4).
Moore sued for property rights (over his own spleen cells) but lost. Sandoz's lawyers argued that private (patient) ownership over all body material would send biotech research costs through the ceiling. Moore claimed that his rights had been violated and that no one should own any parts of him but himself. (Ref 10).
If patenting animals becomes acceptable in Europe, will patenting of human tissue be far behind?
Eugenics - perfect people
The idea in eugenics is the desire to improve, through breeding processes, not only the characteristics of domestic animals and cultivated plants but human beings themselves. (Ref 1).
A word, eugenics, actually exists in English to describe the production of a race of perfect people.
A coalition of women's rights groups announced that it will oppose attempts by Myriad Genetics to patent a gene that is implicated in inherited cancers of the breast. Myriad Genetics is developing a test for the gene. The coalition is concerned that even if a woman tests positive for the gene there is no preventative treatment and test results could be used to discriminate against carriers. (Ref 11).
It can be shown that you may be predisposed to many illnesses through GE even though you may never develop them. GE can also make people aware of their susceptibility to incurable diseases. What's to stop employers and insurers from discriminating against you on these grounds?
A vegetable or not?
Dr Owen Doyle of BioResearch Ireland said that today's commercially produced fruit and vegetables have already been genetically modified using conventional breeding methods. Biotechnology goes just one step further - by extracting a useful gene from a plant, bacteria or animal and inserting it into another plant, new improved food varieties can be produced (Ref 4).
Would you consider a food plant, like a tomato, with a gene from an animal or bacteria "improved"?
Milk - breast was best!
Now the Dutch and Americans are racing each other to be the first to create a cow that will produce human milk. They have replaced the genes which control the composition of cow's milk in a freshly fertilised bovine egg with the equivalent human genes. (Ref 13).
If it is envisaged that cows might "produce" human milk, what next?
Do you know what you're eating?
Although novel ingredients (which includes foods which contain Genetically Modified Organisms or by-products of GMOs) are already in use, there are no regulations dealing with their production or labelling. (Ref 14).
Food producers are under no obligation to label their products as having been developed with or from GMOs. Are there food products in your supermarket that have been made using GMOs?
UCC: experimental oncology and human genome analysis.
TCD: (autonomous genetics department) - animal genetics, human genetics, transgenic plants. Transgenic mice to study blindness. (Ref 16).
DCU: (The National Cell and Tissue Culture Centre) - the growth of animal cells in culture, interest in human cells (normal and tumour), genetic manipulation of cells, gene-cloning.
UCD: Molecular cytogenetics of breast and bone cancer, embro production, manipulation, storage and transfer, genetics of growth in laboratory and farm animals.
The Pentagon was forced to admit that it has been conducting "defensive" research programs in biological warfare at 127 sites around the US. Science magazine reported that the Defence Department is applying recombinant DNA techniques in research and production of a range of pathogens and toxins, including botulism, anthrax and yellow fever. (Ref 9).
1. Prof Ernst Winnaker, Prof biochemistry, Univ of Munich, Deutschland, Feb 95.
2. New Scientist, 10th Dec 88
3. Gail Vines, New Scientist, Nov 92
4. New Scientist, 12th Jan 91
5. The Independent Magazine, 20th April 91
6. BUAV Insight, Sept 95
7. Clive Cookson, Science Editor, Financial Times, 9th March 96
8. Alasdair Palmer, The Spectator, 17th July 96
9. New Internationalist, April 88
10. New Internationalist, Mar 91
11. New Scientist, May 96
12. Stephen Cadogan, Farm Examiner, 18th Jan 96
13. Alpha 18th Jan 90
14. Consumer Choice Magazine, April 1991
15. 1996/97 Prospectuses
16. Dr McConnell, TCD, Pat Kenny Show, RTE Radio 1, 25th Apr 96
Catechism and Dogma
By Grant March
What the Catechism of the Catholic Church (May 1994) says
 Endowed with "a spiritual and immortal" soul, the human person is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake". From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude.
 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals, if it remains within reasonable limits, is a morally acceptable practice since it contributes to caring for or saving human lives.
 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St Francis of Assisi or St Philip Neri treated animals.
 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.
 The 7th Commandment (You shall not steal) enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbour, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.
Church Catechism: Analysis
"Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care." If "God entrusted animals to the stewardship" of humans surely it is incumbent on humans to honour this "providential care". But do humans do that?
"It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly." But what does "needlessly" mean? "It is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing." Does this condone battery hens, intensive pig farming and veal crates?
"They may...help man in his work and leisure." Does this condone coursing, fox hunting, cubbing and zoos?
"Medical and scientific experimentation on animals, if it remains within reasonable limits, is morally acceptable." What are "reasonable limits"? Does this loose terminology condone the horrific and grotesque experiments that are carried out on animals?
"Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are...destined...for the common good...of humanity." Animals appear here to be nothing more than resources to be used by mankind.
In the same paragraph it says that "Man's dominion over...other living beings...is not absolute...it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation." Does Man hold a religious respect for the integrity of nature? Should the church play a more active role in ensuring this is carried out?
We are told that we "can love animals" but that we "should not direct to them the affection due only to persons". Is this not contradictory?
"It is...unworthy to spend money on [animals]" that should go to alleviating human misery. A clear choice is made between animal and human suffering and that human suffering is worse.
It is implied that humans are the only creatures to have a "spiritual and immortal soul". Because of this difference, a clear distinction is drawn to the manner in which humans and animals should be treated.
The catechism text appears to be very loosely defined. With regard to animal welfare the negative points appear to outweigh the positive.
Watching over our wildlife
A profile of Jim Moore, Wildlife Ranger
By Aideen Yourell
Jim Moore's interest in and love of wildlife was passed on to him from his father whom he described as a "great amateur naturalist". As a youngster growing up in Offaly, Jim accompanied his father out into the countryside and learned a great deal about nature and wildlife.
Jim joined the wildlife service in 1980, having spent some years as a gamekeeper in a large country estate. He jumped at the opportunity to join the National Parks and Wildlife Services as a ranger, preferring to help protect Ireland's wildlife rather than gamekeep for the landed gentry set.
He is now a fount of knowledge on the subject as I discovered recently when I accompanied him on a badger watching expedition to what can only be described as a purely magical wood which was carpeted with the most exquisite bluebells.
You can tell that Jim really loves his job. He talks enthusiastically about plants, trees and animals. He plucked a leaf from a plant, gave me the Latin name which I promptly forgot, rolled it up in a ball and asked me what is smelled like. When I said "wet grass", I think he was a little less than impressed because it's supposed to smell like wild garlic and mustard!
I didn't see any badgers that evening but Jim, who is pretty eagle-eyed, saw one scuttle into the sett, and another leave. Maybe next time I'll be lucky, because I've promised myself a return visit to that little bit of paradise very soon.
Jim particularly loves sharing his extensive knowledge and experience with others. Of all the many successes in his career to date, the one that gave him the greatest satisfaction was being involved in an ecology project with primary school children which won a national aware. What pleased him the most was that every child who was involved in the project maintained an interest in and appreciation for wildlife.
Of course Jim's job has its unpleasant side. Dealing with the wildlife abusers and criminals such as badger baiters is a hazardous business if you are a lone ranger and are unfortunate enough to meet them in an isolated spot. Normally, when out on such missions, rangers travel in teams. They are also equipped with mobile phones for emergency situations - thanks to ICABS who met with Minister Michael D Higgins last October and pleaded for the rangers to be equipped with them. Jim says that the phones make a tremendous difference because they eliminate the sense and perception of isolation in tricky situations.
Jim stressed the need for all modern surveillance equipment vital for intelligence gathering to make the ranger service a more effective force in the fight against wildlife crime.
Jim has an excellent record for wildlife crime detection and successful prosecutions. He says that he has to be vigilant and careful about his personal safety at all times due to certain "unpleasant individuals" who might harbour grudges against him for spoiling their "fun".
I asked Jim if he felt that rangers should be uniformed. He felt that the right image, created by a smart authoritative and instantly recognisable uniform would impress on the public the importance and value of wildlife. When I asked him what he thought the average person's perception of the role of a wildlife ranger was, he said that, unfortunately, rangers are commonly thought to be gamekeepers for private estates and he is regularly referred to as a "game warden". He would certainly like that image to be rectified and feels a lot more needs to be done to improve public awareness about the wildlife service and its function. He is painfully aware of the fact that a sizeable majority don't even know we have wildlife laws. Asked if he felt that wildlife gets the protection it needs, he replied that between the European Union and Irish Government, the legislation - provided that it was implemented - was adequate.
As a Wildlife Ranger, Jim's job is very varied. Based in Offaly and spanning three counties, it involves policing, educating, advising , public relations, researching, surveying, first-aid for sick and injured animals and much more besides. Jim loves it. He couldn't see himself doing anything else - to him, it's a vocation. When I asked him if he had a favourite wild animal he said that he was interested in and fascinated by everything from the "tiniest, ugliest little thing from under a rock to the largest whale in the ocean".
Although Jim is the proverbial "lone" ranger, spending a lot of time out in the countryside alone, he says he is never lonely. He loves being "in the wilderness, being at one with nature", and it's a comforting thing for those of us who care about our vulnerable wildlife to know that Jim is out there watching over the creatures in his patch. The trouble is that we need a lot more like him to keep our wildlife as safe as the law currently allows.
Animal facts - the hare
How do you tell hares and rabbits apart? Hares are bigger than rabbits. Fully grown they are about 60cm long and weigh up to 4 kg.
How many types of hare are there in Ireland? There are two types of hare in Ireland. The first is the brown hare which was introduced from Britain and Europe. The second, and most common, is known by three different common names - the "Irish", "Blue" or "Mountain" hare. Some people say that this is a special race of mountain hare that only lives in Ireland.
How many babies can a hare have each year? The female blue hare, called a doe, usually has about three litters per year, producing 6-7 babies called leverets.
Do hares live in burrows? No, hares rely on their amazing speed and their ability to lie unseen to avoid natural predators like foxes and large birds of prey. Does deposit their young singly in various parts of the fields where they lie still in shallow depressions called forms.
What is a boxing hare? Male hares, called bucks, and especially brown hares, compete for the attention of does when they are ready to breed. Sometimes the bucks chase each other around, leap about and box with each other to try and "get the girl". This frolicking is the origin of the phrase "Mad as a March hare".
How long does a hare live for? Many hares are killed at a very early age but the oldest recorded hare from the wild was 12.5 years old (I wonder if he became a grey hare!)
What do hares eat? Hares feed mostly at twilight on grass roots and bark. Sometimes they feed on farm crops but pose no significant threat to agriculture.
Where can I see a hare in Ireland? Brown hares on the north western tip of Ireland although they are found in the whole of Europe and parts of Asia, Australia, Africa and North and South America. Blue hares can be found all over Ireland. They may be seen on rough grassland, farmland, woodland, upland pasture and heather moors.
Who kills hares and why? A small minority of people think it is fun and entertaining to use dogs to chase and kill hares. This is called coursing. There are two types - open and enclosed coursing. In enclosed coursing, a hare is released into a field and given a head start before two greyhounds are released to try and catch it or chase it until it reaches safety. Although the dogs are muzzled, they can still kill the hares. In open hare coursing, hares are herded into a field where they are tracked by packs of dogs. Hares are often killed in open hare coursing because they get tired and are then caught and torn to pieces by the dogs.
We are honoured to print a previously unpublished poem by the late respected Irish author and poet William Monk-Gibbon.
During his lifetime he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of the Irish Academy of Letters, a life member of the Royal Dublin Society and a silver medallist for poetry at the Tailtean Games in 1928.
He was born in Dublin on 15 December 1896 to Canon William Monk-Gibbon and Mrs Agnes Pollock and began to write poetry seriously during a stay in Jersey after the first World War.
In total he wrote six books of poetry, five of autobiography, five of travel, three on ballet and three on literature.
The poem was provided by Dr MA Roberts who gained permission for us to use it from William Monk-Gibbon's literary executor. We are grateful to all concerned.
By William Monk-Gibbon (1896-1987)
They who release a captive hare
To fight for life against a pair
Of unleashed hounds which - two to one
Bracket their victim forced to run
And yet debared from jinking right
Or left in that unequal fight
When safety's reached and it is loose
Bore it again for future use
It has been murmured - Jesus Christ!
That ordained priests enjoy the sight
And with their raised binoculars view
The frightened victim torn in two
How they manage if heaven denies
Such pastimes to their expectant eyes
Will God, who loves his creatures well
Suggest they find their fun in hell.
Editorial Team: Andrew Ramsey and Grant March.
The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the official policy of ICABS or those of the editors.