Animal Watch

Animal Watch, Issue 1, 2002
Full Contents - Pages 1-24

Revealed: deceit and cruelty of coursing
Reports expose shocking behind-the-scenes activities of coursers

Coursing clubs course sick hares, re-course hares, take pregnant hares from the wild and leave sick and injured hares to die, ICABS has learned.

Thanks to documents obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports under the Freedom of Information Act, we can reveal how coursers break the flimsy rules which apply to their cruel activities.

The evidence shows that clubs up and down the country are not only breaching their licence conditions but expecting government officials to “turn a blind eye”.

The reports received by ICABS relate to the 2000-01 and 2001-02 coursing seasons and originate from Dúchas conservation rangers and Department of Agriculture officials who attended meetings. The content of the reports confirms what we have always suspected about coursing.

Detailed in the documents are instances of suspected hare trafficking, attempts to hide hares following meetings, efforts to thwart the official monitoring of hare releases (including two high speed car chases), the obstruction of rangers in their duties, the re-coursing of hares, the coursing of weak hares and the leaving of injured hares to die without veterinary intervention.

courser with dead hare
A courser holds a dead hare by its back legs. Reports obtained by ICABS reveal the deplorable treatment of hares by coursers.

Also noted in the documents is the continuing discrepancy in hare kill figures between Dúchas and the Department of Agriculture. This is an ongoing trend caused, we believe, by coursing clubs presenting false information to the Department who accepts it and presents it as official government figures.

These discrepancies are evident at a number of meetings. For example, at the three day Killimer/Kilrush meeting in December of 2000, the Department of Agriculture reported a total of three hares killed. In stark contrast, Dúchas (who had a ranger present for the first two days of the meet) puts the mortality figure at 10.

Discrepancies also occur for the following meetings attended by Dúchas rangers: Clarina, Edenderry, Loughrea, Miltown Malbay, Castleisland, Westport, Limerick City, Listowel, Rathkeale, Old Kilcullen, Doon, Ardpatrick & Kilmallock, Roscommon, Abbeyfeale, Macroom & Millstreet, Tradaree, Irish Cup (Tralee) and Westmeath United.

Irish Permanent ends coursing sponsorship

The Irish Permanent has finally responded to appeals to stop sponsoring live hare coursing meetings. The building society placed advertisements in a coursing booklet for three years before agreeing to stop.

Our appeals to the company began in 1998 when an ICABS observer in Cork spotted an advertisement from their Mallow branch in a local coursing card. The ad appeared in a section in which local businesses expressed their best wishes to the club. An identical ad appeared again in the 2000.

Numerous letters of complaint were sent to the company’s head office at the time but all went unacknowledged. In August of this year we decided to try again and this time we got our overdue response.

“I confirm that it is not Irish Permanent’s sponsorship policy to sponsor blood sports or any activities associated with blood sports,” stated Irish Permanent Customer Service Manager, Marie Nally.

She also confirmed that the company has clarified this policy to all branches around the country - including the Mallow branch responsible for the coursing advert. Did they take notice, however?

The good news is that yes, they have. In the latest 2001 Mallow Coursing Club meeting card, the Irish Permanent ad is no longer present. So, congratulations to the Irish Permanent for disassociating itself from blood sports.

Every sponsor lost to a coursing club is another nail in its coffin. Our attention now turns to Acorn Life, another big company which remains connected to coursing. If you are aware of companies connected to blood sports, please let us know immediately.

Don’t delay the hunters: Alan Dukes

Kildare South TD, Alan Dukes, angered farmers when he called on the government to prevent delays to the start of the foxhunting season. Coming amid ongoing fears over the spread of foot and mouth disease, the appeal was criticised by farmers who fear foxhunters could ruin their livelihoods by spreading disease.

Alan Dukes reportedly put pressure on the Agriculture Minister, Joe Walsh, to meet with foxhunting groups to arrange a re-start to the hunting season.

Alan Dukes
Kildare TD, Alan Dukes.

An article in the Farmers’ Journal criticised the Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesperson on Agriculture for his efforts to get hunts up and running again.

In the course of a day’s hunt, foxhunters can cross up to 50 different farm boundaries. Farmers fear hunt members along with their horses and hounds will spread diseases which could devastate their livelihoods. If you are a Kildare South constituent, please write to Alan Dukes. Tell him that foxhunters spread disease and remind him about the extreme cruelty of foxhunting. Contact Details: Alan Dukes, TD, Tully West, Kildare, Co. Kildare.

Pitstop Praised

Advance Pitstop Tyre Company has been praised by ICABS for confirming that it will no longer support coursing events.

An outlet of the company in Cork was among the sponsors of the 2001 Mallow Coursing Club meeting.

In a letter to an ICABS letter writing campaigner in Cork, the company’s Managing Director stated: “I was not aware that we had any involvement with this ‘sport’ and we have no wish to be associated with it. I have taken immediate steps to ensure that none of our 32 outlets support coursing clubs and their activities.”

Fidelma Yourell

ICABS extends deepest sympathy to our Public Relations Officer, Aideen Yourell, on the death of her mother, Mrs Fidelma Yourell.

Mrs Yourell passed away in August of this year. Our sympathies to all the Yourell Family on their loss.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílis.

Hunt gets permit to kill in Coillte woods

Coillte has given in to pressure from foxhunters and re-issued a permit which allows hunters into forests in Galway. The move comes following an appeal by the Galway Blazers against an earlier decision to keep the public woodlands foxhunt-free.

The permit gives woodland access to the hunt on specific dates and gives hunters the go-ahead to continue terrorising and killing forest foxes.

The Galway Blazers now have permission to enter the following Coillte woodlands: Dunsandle, Moyode, Castlellen, Castletaylor, Derrydonnell, Knockbrack, Mountain West and Monivea. We have also learned that foxhunters have access to two other Coillte woods in the south east of the country.

Last season, Galway anti-hunt campaigner, Tom Hardiman, reported witnessing hunters cub hunting and interfering with fox earths in a number of local Coillte woods.

ICABS made repeated appeals to the forestry board and in September we received the good news that a permit issued to the hunt last year would not be renewed.

However, we subsequently learned that the Galway Blazers appealed this decision to Coillte’s regional manager, Pat McLoughlin, and were successful.

Coillte Chief Executive, Martin D Lowery told ICABS: “I am advised by the Regional Manager that he has accepted that the Blazers had traditionally hunted over these lands, albeit not always under permit.”

He added: “Any such permit must be founded on mutual trust. Coillte has no reason to believe that traditional adherence to permit conditions will be breached.”

In our bid to persuade Coillte to make their forests off-limits to foxhunters, we enlisted the help of several TDs, including Michael D Higgins and Tony Gregory. Both joined us in appealing to Coillte to keep the hunters out.

However it seems the cruelty brigade hold the balance of power and are now free to continue terrorising foxes in these woods.

Coillte’s dramatic u-turn is more bad news for wildlife in Galway. ICABS will continue to lobby the forestry board in an effort to persuade them to make its property off-limits to hunters but we need your help. Please respond now to the important action item below.

Urgent Action:

Please write to Coillte and demand that forests in Galway and forests around the country are made off-limits to foxhunts. Ireland’s wildlife are fast running out of safe havens. Urge Coillte to show compassion for the creatures which live in their woods by keeping hunters out.

Contact Martin D Lowery, Chief Executive, Coillte Teoranta, Head Office, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-6615666. Fax: 01-6789527 or 01-6768598.

Minister thanked for coursing help

Irish Coursing Club Chief Executive, Jerry Desmond, has thanked the Minister for Arts and Heritage, Síle DeValera, for her co-operation with the ICC in getting the 2001-2002 coursing season off to a start.

The start of the season came just weeks after Agriculture Minister, Joe Walsh, had warned farmers that the foot and mouth threat was far from over. ICABS learned with amazement that despite one Minister’s calls for vigilance, another Minister was handing out licences for hare coursing to go ahead.

Coursing involves transversing farms to catch hares in nets and the subsequent movement of people, vehicles and dogs - sometimes from other parts of the country - to the meeting.

The blood sport also attracts a handful of people from the UK, one of whom travelled from a foot and mouth hotspot last year to a coursing meeting in Cavan.

The praise for Minister De Valera’s help came last September during the Liscannor coursing meeting in Co Clare.

Injured and sick hares left to die

Some rangers outlined in their reports how sick and injured hares were dealt with. The Dúchas ranger supervising the Liscannor meeting in November 2000 reported: “There were nine hits during the day. One hare was severely injured and it was requested that the animal be put down...On the morning of the second day, it was found that four hares had died during the night. The severely injured animal had not been put down but had died.”

The ranger went on to outline how two hares in the shelter appeared sick. When he returned the next day, he discovered that they had died. So too had a hare that was “killed by a dog from which the muzzle came off”.

When he and a colleague supervised the release of hares after the meeting, he noted that: “One of the (five) hares hit the previous day had died. We requested that one hare, obviously unhealthy, be put down. Four hares were found dead in the holding pen. These hares were found in exposed positions in the western part of the pen...During the release of hares, one animal was found to be in very poor health and was put down.”

greyhounds chasing hare
Rangers reported that among the fatalities in coursing were hares which died from the stress of being hounded.

The catalogue of cruelty goes on with rangers acknowledging that coursing is stressful to the hares and can be fatal. Reporting on the Kilmaley coursing meeting, a ranger outlined how he found dead hares in the enclosure which he speculated had succumbed to the stress of coursing.

In Miltown Malbay, the ranger reported four hares hit, three of which died overnight in the compound. Fifty one hares were released after this meeting and according to the ranger, they “appeared fit and healthy leaving the boxes.” However, when he later walked the area where they had been released, he found one dead hare and speculated that there may have been others. This is proof that the hare fatalities associated with coursing are not always on the coursing field.

At Millstreet and Macroom, the rangers felt that some of the hares coursed were in poor condition, stating that “on two separate occasions, hares refused to run up the length of the field and were easily caught by those standing in the field”.

The ranger went on to report that “at the end of the day, we also noticed some injured hares in the box. This begs the questions - should these hares have been released? And why was there no vet present to treat them?”

The club in question claimed that a vet appeared briefly during the interval but the rangers say they never saw him.

greyhounds chasing hare
Run for your life: During the 2000-2001 season, hares injured by greyhounds were left to die by heartless coursers.

And at Loughrea, a hare was put down as a result of injuries, with the ranger querying how this was done as there was no veterinary involvement. Meanwhile, at Westmeath United, a hare died while being boxed. At Tradaree, one hare suffered a broken leg and was released in that condition.

A Department of Agriculture official described the death of a hare at a meeting in Lifford, Co. Donegal in November 2000 as follows: “Handlers too slow to intervene (30 seconds to one minute). Both greyhounds pinned the hare very close to the escape area. Death of the hare appeared to occur quickly. I examined the hare and it did not appear to have any defects such as swollen limbs or feet. It had performed well.”

This remark about hares performing well is just one of many we found throughout reports filed by both the Department and Dúchas. We find them callous and inappropriate under the circumstances and it also makes us wonder about the objectivity of some of the official monitors.

Pregnant hares netted

At Ballinagar, leverets were born in hare pens which means that pregnant hares were netted for the coursing event. A ranger also recorded the presence of leverets in the compound at a meeting in Edenderry.

Coursed hares also had to endure difficult conditions on the field. For the Ballyduff meeting, it was reported that: “The weather was very bad and the area close to the escape was very mucky, and this made it difficult for hares.” Similarly, in Listowel, the ranger stated that “the course was very wet at the top of the field and this made it difficult for the hares.”

High Hare Kills at Trials

As regards hare kills, one conservation ranger noted in his report that at coursing trials in Ballinagar, Co. Offaly in October 2000 (a week prior to the coursing meeting), “hares were not running directly to the escape and there was a noticeably higher number of hits than on a real coursing day.”

Normally trials are very low key and rangers don’t, as a rule, attend. We can only speculate, based on this particular report, on the suffering endured by hares at these behind-the-scenes events.

Minister Síle DeValera (who grants licences for hare coursing) has many questions to answer. The top of the list must be: why has she reissued licences to clubs who have apparently broken their licence conditions and failed to cooperate with her own officials?

Meanwhile , the Irish Coursing Club has rejected a call from the Department of Agriculture to introduce drag coursing at some meetings - even on a trial basis. ICABS had supplied the Department with a copy of a video showing drag coursing being successfully carried out by a club in England.

Aideen Yourell

What the rangers thought

Some of the rangers employed by Dúchas to monitor the activities of coursers seem very keen to give credit to the blood sport enthusiasts who terrorise our hares.

A coursing meeting in Kerry at which one hare died and seven hares were hit by greyhounds was described by the monitoring ranger as “excellent”. “This was an excellent meeting and the hares were super,” he remarked.

Rather disturbingly, this is not an isolated instance of a ranger praising an activity which is intrinsically cruel.

The Dúchas ranger present at the Killimer/Kilrush meeting in December 2000 had the following to say after recording 17 hares hit and 10 hares killed on the field: “The meeting was well run and the club was very co-operative.”

At the Roscommon coursing meeting, four hares captured by the club died due to bad weather while another six died from so-called “natural causes”. Nevertheless, the ranger’s report outlined that “the coursing event was well run and the hares were kept in good conditions.”

A ranger reporting on the Traderee meeting in January 2001 said it was “very well run with the hares excellently looked after”. This despite the same ranger recording that one of the hares used by the club suffered a broken leg and another had a “suspected broken front paw as a result of being hit”.

And perhaps, most remarkable of all, a ranger who reported that seven hares were killed at a meeting went out of his way to defend the coursers responsible.

“Those involved in the coursing club are genuinely concerned for the welfare of the hares and are acutely aware of the need for conservation,” he stated.

Philip Kiernan

Scotland makes history with ban on hunting

The Scottish Parliament has voted by an overwhelming majority of 83-36 to ban hunting wild animals with dogs. Hare coursing, fox hunting and stag hunting will be illegal in Scotland later this year.

We congratulate the Scottish Parliament for being the first in these islands to have the courage and compassion to ban the hunting of wild animals with dogs. We are much heartened and encouraged by this development.

England and Wales are not far behind, with the Labour Government pledge to bring a bill before parliament in this session. The majority of MPs there favour a ban on hunting wild animals with dogs.

Responding to the vote in Scotland, the UK’s League Against Cruel Sports spokesperson, Douglas Batchelor remarked that it is “a tremendous step forward for animal welfare“.

"The vote marks the end of the road for fox hunting, hare coursing and fox baiting in Scotland,” he said. “Just like their colleagues in Scotland, our own MPs support a ban so it is time for the government to act."

In Scotland, hunters resisting a ban have responded by vowing to appeal to the Court of Human Rights!

We find it grotesque and abhorrent that some humans feel they have any right to infringe a very basic animal right - the right not to be terrified, tortured and killed for fun.

Indeed, that animal right is already enshrined in legislation, both here and in Britain in the 1911 Protection of Animals Act, but only for domestic animals. It is time that wild animals were afforded that same protection.

Ireland still lags far behind in tackling this cruelty issue, with the government burying its head in the sand and studiously ignoring public opinion which is strongly opposed to blood sports.

Indeed, the Ministers for Agriculture and Arts, Heritage who have responsibility for animal welfare and wildlife go out of their way to accommodate the hunters here.

Last year, both Joe Walsh and Síle De Valera gave their blessing to fox hunting and hare coursing despite the then continuing threat of Foot and Mouth disease.

In a similar move to accommodate the animal abusers, Minister De Valera appointed Des Crofton, who heads up an umbrella group for all blood sports groups (FACE), to the wildlife committee of the heritage council which is the Minister’s own advisory body. So now we have hunters advising the Minister on what’s best for our precious wildlife.

Cockfighting cock-up on radio quiz

A radio quizmaster awarded a point to a contestant who incorrectly stated that cockfighting is a sport.

On his “Just a Minute Quiz”, 2FM’s Larry Gogan asked: “What sport would you associate with bantam?”. The player answered “cockfighting” but immediately realised he was wrong.

Larry laughed it off, stating the answer in front of him was boxing (as in bantam weight), but he conceded that cockfighting was acceptable as well and awarded the point.

ICABS wrote to the disc jockey, highlighting that cockfighting is not a sport but a form of animal cruelty. We also pointed out that it is illegal in Ireland.

Tayto defend matador ad

Despite countless complaints from ICABS campaigners around Ireland, Tayto refused to pull a controversial TV advert which portrayed a bullfighter as a hero.

A standard statement from Tayto outlined that the aim of the 40 second ad was “to take a humorous look at the lengths people will go to in order to get their hands on our crisps".

ICABS told Tayto: We don’t see anything humorous about using bullfighting imagery to sell crisps!

Hunting stand attracts Walsh

Reports from August’s Dublin Horse Show reveal that Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, displayed a particular attraction to a pro-blood sports information stand.

Minister Walsh was seen visiting the hunt stand on two separate occasions.

It remains unclear whether he was present to receive a soaking when the stand was hit by what was described as “a flash flood” in the main hall of the RDS.

Bloodsport back on bishop’s land
Foxhunters return to Church property in Galway

Foxhunters have returned to terrorise wildlife on the Bishop of Clonfert’s farm in Loughrea, Co Galway.

Members of the Galway Blazers hunt were spotted on the church land by local anti-hunt observer, Tom Hardiman, who says mounted hunters jumped over a wall and into a field directly in front of the bishop’s house.

ICABS supporters have appealed on numerous occasions to Bishop John Kirby to make his land a haven for wildlife but this latest incident in November casts doubt over previous hopes that he may have ordered the hunt to keep away.

Galway Blazers on road
The Galway Blazers on a road close to the bishop’s property.

It remains unclear at this point whether the hunt had permission from the bishop to be on the land on the day in question. There is a suggestion also that the bishop was not at home on the day in question.

Over the past year, Bishop Kirby has refused to clarify his stance on hunt access to his 70 acre farm. Letters of protest sent to the bishop have either gone unanswered or have received unsatisfactory responses.

To date, Bishop Kirby has not replied to correspondence which asked him to confirm or deny whether the Blazers had permission to be on his land during November.

After the Galway Blazers had kept off the land on the previous two occasions in which they were hunting in the area, there had been high hopes that Bishop Kirby had done the right thing and barred them from coming on to the land. However, we now have to reassess the situation.

Bishop Kirby's house
Bishop Kirby’s lakeside residence in Loughrea. Hunters on horseback were seen in the field in front of the house.

As well as our concerns for foxes, we hold fears for the safety of badgers in an area of woodland adjacent to the driveway up to the bishop’s house.

A Dúchas wildlife ranger confirmed to ICABS that the wooded area contains badger setts. Bishop Kirby has been made aware of this and also the fact that badgers and their setts are protected under the Wildlife Act.

Please keep up the pressure on Bishop John Kirby. Write a letter to him at St Brendan’s, Coorheen, Loughrea, Co Galway. If you have written already, please write again. Alternatively you can telephone Bishop Kirby on 091-841560.

Disease spread claim by hunts proves untrue

Media reports and claims by the hunting fraternity that animal rights activists from the UK had been in Ireland last October to spread foot and mouth turned out to be groundless.

During a Liveline radio debate with former IFA official, Philip Lynch, the Hunting Association of Ireland spokesperson David Wilkinson stated that animal rights activists intent on spreading FMD in Ireland had been seen getting on a plane in the UK. He said they had been too quick out of Dublin Airport to be apprehended by Gardaí.

He further claimed that they went on to meet like-minded anti-fieldsports people here, some of whom ended up at a farmers’ protest meeting against hunting in Kilkenny.

ICABS contacted the Garda Press office to have the matter clarified, but despite exhaustive enquiries on their part (including calls to InterPol), they were unable to confirm that any such individuals had arrived in Ireland to spread foot and mouth.

We also contacted the Public Information Office of the Department of Agriculture who had no information on the incident. So where did this ludicrous story start?

We believe that the hunting fraternity maliciously put out this piece of fiction to smear anti-blood sports campaigners and deflect attention away from their own scandalous and controversial decision to commence hunting again during the ongoing threat of foot and mouth from the UK.

Health board quizzed over hospital hares

ICABS is investigating claims that members of a coursing club netted hares on the grounds of a Dublin hospital.

In January we received the claims that coursers were spotted entering land around Saint Ita’s Hospital in Portrane. According to our source, men were seen coming on to the property in the early hours of the morning and were carrying bags to put captured hares into.

Saint Ita's Hospital
Saint Ita’s Hospital in Portrane: grounds off limits to coursers.

When we brought the matter to the attention of the Northern Area Health Board (NAHB), we were told that the board “does not condone unauthorised access to our property”.

St Ita’s Hospital Administrator, Enda Doody told ICABS: “No members of hare coursing clubs have ever been permitted access to hospital grounds and this policy remains consistent with all lands owned by the NAHB. The hospital management are not aware of any such intrusions.”

Pet dogs stolen for shooters

Gardaí are investigating the disappearance of hundreds of dogs in the north and west of Ireland.

With the disappearances coinciding with the start of the shooting season in September, it is believed that the golden labrador and collie dogs are being stolen by gangs who sell them to shooters as gun dogs. It is feared that some of the dogs may also be used in illegal dogfighting activities.

Garda investigators confirmed that more than 200 dogs have gone missing in Donegal, Sligo, Derry, Fermanagh and Leitrim. A Garda spokesperson stated that the stolen dogs are being smuggled to other parts of the country where shooters are buying them up.

“Some are being used as live bait in underground dog fights,” he said. “The stolen dogs are no good at fighting, however, and are being used instead to blood fighting bulldogs and alsatians.”

Anyone with information on the theft of these dogs is asked to contact the Gardaí.

Campaign cake sale

Many thanks to the fourth year students of St Joseph’s College in Lucan for organising a cake sale in aid of ICABS.

The cakes must have been delicious because the event managed to raise a whopping £75 for the campaign against blood sports.

Thank you to all who organised and so generously supported this fundraiser.

Brewery bars website from using pint logo

Guinness have acted swiftly to get a pint logo pulled off a blood sports website.

The Country Sports Ireland site - with sections on foxhunting, terrierwork and ferreting - used the image on an accommodation page for hunting holidaymakers.

When ICABS brought this to the attention of Guinness we were assured that they would waste no time in trying to get it removed.

Guinness Corporate Affairs Director, Pat Barry told us that the publishers of the site used the image without asking.

“Our understanding is that Country Sports Ireland did not seek permission from Guinness to use this logo,” he said.

“Appropriate corrective action is now being taken by our information technology service and legal departments.”

A few days later, the logo had been replaced with a photograph of a wine glass.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports congratulated Guinness for their prompt response. More and more companies are shunning blood sport activities and this is in line with increasing public opposition.

Guinness have consistently come out against blood sports. Four years ago they stressed that they “do not support blood sports and would not knowingly lend our name to the promotion of hunting in Ireland”.

Rival brewery, Murphy’s, have also given the thumbs down to killing animals for kicks. Following complaints from ICABS in 1997, every year they remove a huge Heineken banner from a racecourse in Roscommon while a two-day hare coursing event takes place.

Cancer Society drops fur coats

The Irish Cancer Society has reacted positively to an ICABS appeal to stop selling fur coats in its charity shop chain.

The campaign to get fur dropped began after an ICABS supporter in Cork reported a mink coat window display in the charity’s Castle Street shop.

After presenting information about the extreme cruelty involved in the fur industry, we asked the society to consider making its shops fur-free. And we are delighted to report that they have agreed to remove the cruelty clothes from stock.

Announcing this policy change, Shops General Manager, Paul Hughes outlined that even though their shops rarely received fur donations they made the move to avoid upsetting customers.

“We had to consider two main issues,” he said. “Firstly, the risk of offending those who donate goods and secondly the loss of income from such sales. Having given the matter careful consideration we have decided to discontinue the sale of fur coats in our shops.”

Between 10 and 40 animals are slaughtered to produce a single fur garment. Killing methods used include electrocution, gassing and strangulation.

County Council destroys habitat

Despite intensive efforts by ICABS to save a wildlife haven near Mullingar, Westmeath County Council moved in and destroyed the habitat.

The council had assured us last May that they would postpone the road works operation at Billistown, Delvin until at least the bird breeding season had ended but they reneged on this promise and proceeded to carry out what amounted to an act of ecological vandalism.

ICABS was first informed about the Council’s activities by local resident, Dickie Anderson, who had enjoyed watching wildlife there for 30 years.

In a bid to halt the work, we contacted Dúchas in Mullingar. Conservation ranger, Sylvia O’Hare, visited the site where, we understand, she was given an undertaking that work would cease until the end of the breeding season in August.

We also got in touch with Minister Síle De Valera’s office and were informed that Divisional Ecologist, Dr. Judith Kellerman, was due to inspect the area to assess it for possible protection.

We stressed to the Project Engineer that issues of conservation and animal welfare were at stake.

However, in June we were alerted by Mr Anderson that the council had started work again and had proceeded to lay down a road through the pond. He said he was devastated at the destruction of the local habitat.

Wicklow pupils united in condemning foxhunting

A survey of pupils in Wicklow has revealed that all agree that foxhunting should be banned.

The newspaper survey asked pupils from Rathdrum National School what they thought about blood sports. The resounding reply was that blood sports should be stopped.

“I think foxhunting should definitely be banned,” stated Amy Elkinson. “It is really cruel and horrible for the fox.”

Classmate, Heather Murphy, agreed, saying “I really think things like hunting foxes and deer should not be allowed because very soon they will be extinct.”

The group of boys surveyed held similar opinions.

Said Kevin Leonard: “I think foxhunting is dreadful. It is really nasty to the animals. One poor fox has all these dogs chasing after him till he gets exhausted and then the dogs rip him apart - and some people think that is a sport!”

This view was echoed by Aby Waldron who described hunting as “really cruel”.

“Animals haven’t done anything against us so why should we treat them this way?” he added.

The pupils also criticised the cruelty in greyhound racing, horse racing and fishing.

Continued support: Sargent

Last December, ICABS was delighted to receive the following message from Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent.

“I wish to reiterate my absolute commitment to the objectives of ICABS. The Green Party/ Comhaontas Glas exists to widen the circle of ethics which apply to the welfare of all humanity and goes beyond that to the welfare of our wider eco-system, with particular regard for the intelligent wild birds and animals that continue to be persecuted in the name of sport. Best wishes for your important work.”

Columnist sorry for fox slur

A Christian writer has apologised for describing foxes as “treacherous”.

In her column in the UK-based Way to Life newsletter, Betty Saunders stated that foxes “look very sweet and harmless but we know that they are really cunning, crafty and treacherous animals.”

Responding to complaints from ICABS, Ms Saunders conceded that her use of the word treacherous was “probably too strong”.

“I was seeking to convey that though they looked so lovely they would in fact kill...It is obvious though that they have to kill to eat to survive,” she said.

Stressing that she is an animal lover, she added: “I would never harm any animal and I am most definitely against fox hunting.”

Eating with the “enemy”

Hunters try to pull the wool over farmers’ eyes by claiming that foxes are the arch enemy of sheep. Our picture (taken in County Westmeath) shows just how untrue this claim is. Here we see a fox and a sheep - and a guinea hen in the background - happily co-existing at mealtime.

fox and sheep
A fox and a sheep together at mealtime.

Hunts and Farmers - Quote

A hunter was recently quoted as follows in the Irish Independent: “Farmers generously let us gallop like cavalries over their rain-sodden and flooded fields. We plough them up, leaving them looking like venues of epic battles.”

May we take this opportunity to remind farmers that our “Troubled by the Hunt” leaflet is available free from our usual address. This leaflet presents useful information on how you can keep foxhunters off your land.

Shooters itching to kill rarest mammal

An article in the Clare Champion in July outlined that local shooters have “declared war on the pine marten”.

It was reported that the shooters are eager to get a licence to kill pine martens which they blame (without proof, incidentally!) for raiding their pheasant pens.

The pine marten is Ireland’s most rare mammal and protected under the Wildlife Act. However, if the hunters in Clare are successful in their licence application to Minister Síle DeValera (a Clare TD), the animals would be severely under threat.

Pine marten at bird table
Rare sighting: a pine marten snacks on an offering of bread and jam on a garden bird table.

When ICABS contacted the wildlife ranger covering the Clare area, we were told that a licence could be granted if it was proven that the martens posed a risk to farmers who keep free-range hens. He appeared keen to connect any alleged pine marten problem with farmers and not shooters.

ICABS is extremely concerned over this issue. We know that Minister DeValera has a cosy relationship with the shooters - she attended their AGM and even appointed shooters on to the Wildlife Committee of the Heritage Council. We fear, therefore, that any application for a licence could be considered favourably.

Please help us to put as much pressure as possible on the Minister. Please contact her and demand that any application to cull pine martens is firmly rejected. Remind her that pine martens are a rare and protected species.

Contact Details: Minister Síle DeValera, Department of Arts and Heritage, 43/49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-6670788 (Ext 2321) or LoCall 1890-474847. Fax: 01-6473101. Email:

Cruel badger baiters convicted

Two Tipperary gunclub members caught close to a badger sett with a bloodied terrier and a spade have been convicted of badger baiting offences.

Giving evidence at the April 2001 sitting of Roscrea District Court, Dúchas wildlife ranger, James Green, said that he observed the men walking away from a badger sett in Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois in March 2000.

He stated that one of their terriers was bleeding and had a gash between its eyes and nose. He also told the court that one of the men was carrying a spade with fresh clay on it.

He went on to say that there was evidence that the sett had been dug into and that both defendants had told him that they could not get down the full distance into it because of stones and rocks. He added that the men told him that the terrier had attacked a badger in the sett.

In court, the two pleaded not guilty. Their solicitor said that they were hunting rabbits and that one of their dogs had gone down into a hole. He also suggested that they might not have known it was a badger sett.

Judge Mary Martin said she could not believe the defendants’ story and convicted them, saying “I have no doubt in my mind that they were badger baiting”.

Both men were fined £50 each and ordered to pay £500 to Roscrea SPCA and Badgerwatch Ireland.

Darina Allen wines and dines hunt

ICABS was very disappointed to learn that celebrity cook, Darina Allen, is a friend to foxhunters.

Darina was pictured in the Irish Field newspaper in January 2002 serving up mince pies to a Cloyne Harriers huntsman outside Ballymaloe House in Cork.

According to the accompanying report, “there was a bottomless supply of lovely mulled wine and delicious mince pies” at the lawn meet given by the cooking expert.

We were also disappointed to read in the same report that fashion designer, John Rocha, was among the spectators at the New Year’s Day foxhunt.

Footballers follow hunt

According to a report in the Irish Independent in December, three Meath footballers were spotted at a foxhunt.

The county footballers - Tommy Dowd, Martin O’Connell and PJ Gillic - were seen among the followers of the Meath Hunt at their St Stephen’s Day meet in Kells.

The report stated that onlookers “delighted in spotting” the GAA men.

ICABS observers outwit camera shy coursers

Report and images by Aideen Yourell

The sick and tawdry “sport” of live hare coursing has much to hide and this was clearly demonstrated to us when we tried to video one of these sorry events across a high wall outside Roscommon Racecourse on Sunday, December 2nd last.

When we attempted to do this four years ago, our camcorder operator was dragged from the top of a car and threatened by a stick-wielding official from the club.

This year, two coursing “officials” tried to order us away from the area but with the assistance of the Gardaí, we were left alone. The Gardaí told the coursers that we had a right to film the coursing from our position on the public road.

Courser pointing at camera
A coursing official orders observers to stop filming over the wall. Gardaí intervened to clarify the meaning of “public road”.

Greyhounds chasing hare
A hare trying in vain to lose the pursuing greyhounds. Moments later it was savagely pounded into the ground.

However, the camera shy coursers did their best to thwart our efforts and placed an official on duty behind the wall with a placard (a racecourse notice warning the public about foot and mouth disease) to block our view. At one point, the coursers arrived with a drill to screw a handle into the placard in an attempt to hold it up higher in front of us.

However, despite their best efforts, we outsmarted them in the end and secured video footage of the blood sport within.

We filmed hares taking punishing batterings from the greyhounds which pinned them down into the ground. We can only speculate on the welfare of these timid and fragile creatures following these maulings.

The course appeared very waterlogged, with hares struggling up the sodden field. The state of the field slowed their progress and made their run for life even more difficult.

Courser with badges in hat
A badge collecting coursing supporter who approached ICABS observers while filming.

Two greyhounds mauling a hare
Greyhounds maul a hare into the ground during the Roscommon coursing club meeting.

There were a number of hares, deemed by the slipper not fit to be coursed, and many of these ran very slowly. One wonders if they were suffering from being battered in a previous course or if they had disease.

Our presence seriously rattled the coursers, and when we moved our position on the high wall to behind the escape area to evade their official with the placard, they became extremely agitated. Fearing for our safety, we had to call the Gardaí for assistance a second time.

The coursers actually accused us of “frightening” the hares by our presence out on the public road. The Garda on duty, however, took a different view and told the coursers that we had every right to be where we were. As to their claim about us “frightening” the hares, this is indeed laughable, and we leave it to Animal Watch readers to consider the incredible irony of this.

Small group of coursing spectators
Support for coursing continues to decline. Here we see a paltry crowd of die-hard fans at Roscommon Racecourse last December.

Coursing is, year by year, becoming more and more a minority activity, and this was very much evident at the Roscommon coursing meeting. A paltry group huddled in a corner of the stand, occupying just a fraction of the total viewing area.

When we first arrived at the venue, there wasn’t much sign of activity, and we harboured a vain hope that maybe the event was cancelled. But no such luck. A small hardcore crowd trickled in, preparing to abuse our precious wildlife in a barbaric activity more akin to the Roman amphitheatres of yore.

Fighting for a sanctuary
A landowner’s struggle to keep hunters out

It’s a bright Sunday morning in late February 2001 and it’s at times like this that one feels lucky to live in the country.

However, on this spring morning that sense of calm was to be broken by the shouts of beagle hunters and the sounds of their hounds as they began to once again engage in their so called sport. Yet again a mixture of fear and deep anger was to fill me.

I live in south County Cavan. Beagle hunting has been taking place in these parts for as long as I can remember. Its followers will tell you they have hunted this way all their lives and in some areas it has been a tradition in many families for generations.

When I was a young boy the hunt would come around on many Sundays. The hunters used to stand on the high ground on our land to gain a grandstand view of the hunt.

However, even then we found a negative side to this activity. Hedges and fences were frequently damaged as hunters crossed our lands. Farmers tolerated these people more than welcomed them on to their property. At that time the cruel side of this “sport” had not yet drawn my attention.

In 1998 when my lands were planted in forestry I made the decision to ban hunting on the property. Firstly this was to prevent damage to the newly erected fencing. However, I had also become increasingly uneasy with the whole concept of using animals in cruel sports. I felt now was the opportunity to stop hunting altogether by barring hounds from entering the land.

beagle running through forested field
A hunt beagle runs through the forested sanctuary.

I placed a notice in the local Anglo-Celt newspaper clearly stating that my lands were preserved from all hunting activity.

On a Sunday during the winter of 1998-99 the hunt arrived in the area. They were clearly aware that my land was preserved because they were very careful not to enter the land themselves. They took up position on a hill on a neighbour’s farm looking on to my farm as their hounds gave chase to a hare through my land.

One huntsman was seen encouraging hounds through a gateway into the sanctuary. This for me was a turning point. I resolved never again would such actions go unchallenged.

Last season a hunting group who would not normally hunt this area entered the lands. After confronting this group they agreed not to return. However, the other hunt have continued to hunt close by despite my repeated requests that they keep an acceptable distance away to prevent their hounds entering the sanctuary.

On November 24th last I discovered the hunt had arrived close to my lands again. Later that day I confronted a huntsman as he was leaving. I was verbally abused and assaulted by this individual and I reported the incident to the Gardaí. The hunt made a return visit to the area just one week later as if to show contempt for my wishes.

two beagles running through sanctuary
Two hunt beagles on the scent of their quarry in the wildlife sanctuary.

As I was driving down the road later that day I encountered a hare running towards me in the middle of the roadway. I drove on and met a young man walking and I asked him was he hunting. He said he was and that they were doing no harm. I replied that they were terrorising the hares. He said “ah sure the hares love to be hunted”. I asked him if they had told him so.

It is disturbing that hunters disregard the wishes of landowners in this way. Every year numerous notices are placed in local newspapers stating that lands are preserved but clearly, in the majority of cases, these wishes are ignored. These good people are left with a choice of doing nothing or going about the task of confronting the hunters personally. I eventually choose the latter and have encountered the wrath of the local hunt fraternity.

I sincerely hope more landowners will actively stand up for their rights and take action. The support I have received from ICABS has been an encouragement to me to continue with my efforts.

Sean Galligan

We will remain hunt sponsor
Waterford Crystal insists on continuing support for cruelty

In the last issue of Animal Watch we were delighted to report on a pledge by Waterford Crystal that they would fully disassociate themselves from blood sports.

The company had been a regular sponsor of foxhunt fundraisers and also had connections with live hare coursing.

This positive statement by the company’s sponsorship department was widely welcomed by animal welfare groups in Ireland and abroad and represented a major blow for hunts who rely heavily on fundraising to continue their abuse of wildlife.

Since then, however, another statement was issued from the Kilbarry-based factory. This time it came from Marketing Manager, Martin McGuire.

In a letter to the editor published in the Waterford News and Star last June, Mr McGuire stated: “For decades, Waterford Crystal has been an enthusiastic supporter of field sports which are enjoyed by many people throughout the country.

“We will continue to lend our support to country pursuits and each application for such support will be considered on its merits.”

So, it appears from this that nothing has changed at Waterford Crystal. This latest statement leads us to believe that there will be no end to the sponsorship of point-to-point races - one of the major fundraisers for foxhunts. We also assume that the company will continue to sponsor the coursing greyhound of the year award.

Please register your disgust at Waterford Crystal’s financial support and connections with blood sports. Ask them to disassociate the company from cruel activities which see foxes torn apart and hares pounded to death.

Write to: John Foley, Chief Executive Officer, Waterford Crystal, Kilbarry, Waterford. Tel: 051-37 33 11. Fax: 051-378 539.

Gun club threatens forest “trespassers”

Waterford’s Cloughernagh & District Gun Club have apparently taken over state forests at Ballygoran, Ballinamintra, Castletown, Knockhouse and Moonamintra and threatened members of the public with prosecution if they enter.

The club issued the notice in the Munster Express in early November, declaring that they had appointed a gamekeeper and that so-called trespassers - that is, other Irish citizens who have every right to access these woods - would be prosecuted.

ICABS wrote to Coillte Chief Executive, Martin D. Lowery, and queried the right of this gun club to take over state owned forests and threaten other users of the woodland with prosecution.

Coillte responded by confirming that as part of overall agreement with the National Association of Regional Game Councils, the club has a licence to shoot in the forests until February 2003 but as regards the publication of the notice, this “clearly exceeds their rights under the licence”.

We trust that Coillte will make it clear to this gun club that they have no right to threaten other citizens who wish to access the woods in question.

Boycott Coillte!

Members of the public were urged to boycott Coillte Christmas trees in a campaign launched by the Woodland Wildlife Protection group.

The boycott was called following the forestry board’s granting of a permit to the Galway Blazers which allows hunters to access vast areas of woodland.

Details of nationwide outlets selling Coillte trees were listed on the group’s website and visitors were urged to buy from alternative sources.

A spokesperson said: “We want people to stop buying Coillte trees and firewood until Coillte stops letting hunters in to terrorise and kill defenceless foxes.”

Alarming reply from Clare TD

When ICABS contacted a Clare TD regarding the cruelty of hare coursing, we received an alarming reply which epitomises the lack of understanding some politicians have about blood sport cruelty.

In our letter to Tony Killeen, TD we asked him for his views on live hare coursing, taking into account that “at the Killimer/ Kilrush coursing meeting in Clare in December 2000, 17 hares were hit by dogs and ten hares were killed”.

In reply, a spokesperson for the TD stated: “Deputy Killeen asked me to respond to your e-mail. He has never attended a coursing meeting but he understands that ‘mussing’ of hares and other reforms which have been introduced have dramatically improved the situation.”

Tony Killeen, TD
Tony Killeen: Thinks hare coursing has improved.

Deputy Killeen obviously believes that the killing of ten hares by blood sport constituents can somehow be described as an improvement!

Of course, ICABS immediately wrote back to the TD’s office to set the record straight.

“Perhaps you would advise Deputy Killeen that muzzling has not dramatically ‘improved’ live hare coursing,” said ICABS spokesperson, Aideen Yourell. “In any case, there is no way live hare coursing - the use of a timid wild animal as a live lure before two pursuing greyhounds - could be ‘improved’.

“It is an intrinsically and inherently cruel so-called “sport” involving the taking of hundreds of timid animals from the wild and using them in a sick sport which has its foundations in the Roman blood sport amphitheatres of yore. The Romans introduced coursing to England, and it was brought here by British soldiers in the early 1900s.

“As regards the muzzling which Deputy Killeen thinks has improved coursing, please tell him that hares are still being killed and injured by greyhounds wearing muzzles. We have filmed hares being mauled, and if he would like a copy of our footage, we would be only too glad to let him have it.”

Mr Killeen’s response is alarming in the extreme. It tells us that we have much to do to make our politicians and legislators aware of the abuse that is live hare coursing.

Please play your part by immediately contacting all your local TDs about blood sports.

TDs call for Coillte hunt ban

We received a very encouraging response to our appeal for political support for our campaign against foxhunting in Coillte forests.

Several TDs joined us in lobbying the forestry board, including Michael D Higgins, Tony Gregory, Joe Higgins, Seamus Brennan, Eamon Gilmore, Robert Molloy and Trevor Sargent.

In a letter to Coillte, Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, pointed out that by allowing foxhunters on to its property, Coillte was effectively linking itself to the cruelty of the hunt.

"I cannot stand by and allow state lands to be used for promoting cruel activities," he added. "I hope you will take action to rectify this matter and end the use by the Galway Blazers Foxhunt of Coillte property."

Tony Gregory raised the issue of a suspected breach of the permit granted to the Galway Blazers. Following an inspection by a forest ranger, Coillte denied this, claiming that no evidence was found.

Davern presents coursing award

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Noel Davern, presented a trophy to the owner of the coursing greyhound of the year 1999/2000.

The presentation was made at the Waterford Crystal sponsored National Greyhounds Awards ceremony. At the previous year’s ceremony, the coursing dog award was made by Minister Joe Walsh.

Sick hare deaths lead to cancellation of coursing
Questions raised about sustainability of hare coursing

ICABS has learned under the Freedom Of Information Act that the November meeting of the Cavan & District Coursing Club was cancelled because the hares were sick and dying.

In reports issued under the Act from both the Department of Agriculture and Dúchas, we learned that 85 hares were captured for the coursing meeting and due to “numerous hare casualties”, the meeting was abandoned.

According to one of the club’s hare catchers, 16 hares died before the remainder were released.

In an internal memo, a Department of Agriculture vet, who is also a member of the Cavan coursing club, informed the Department that hares were dying at the rate of 2-3 per day, and it became apparent that the meeting would have to be cancelled.

The vet, Tony Adams, was of the opinion that the hares had dietary scour as a result of being fed oats for five weeks and then eating grass.

A post mortem carried out on a sample number of hares proved “inconclusive”, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Captured hares in enclosure
Hares are now being kept in captivity for up to two months before a coursing meeting, resulting in stress and disease.

The Dúchas Conservation Ranger expressed concern about the increased mortality rates of hares in confinement, and the threat to the wild Irish hare population.

Apparently, due to lack of hares in the wider countryside, it is necessary to begin catching them 6-8 weeks before coursing, thus keeping them in confinement for longer periods, which may “stress” the hares to an extent that makes them susceptible to disease.

The ranger also questioned the likely repercussions of releasing the 65 remaining hares from the cancelled meeting into an area of 25 hectares when the natural territorial range of one hare is 80 hectares.

He concluded his report by posing the question: are there enough hares in the wild for coursing to continue?

“Is the hare population able to sustain regular coursing if the period of confinement is being extended to account for a drop in the wild population?” he commented.

This incident in Cavan points once again to the hare numbers crisis, how susceptible hares are in captivity and how human interference and the imposition of an unnatural diet can cause severe problems for hares whose diet in the wild is totally at odds with the kind of fare fed to them by the coursers.

Urgent Action

Write to Minister Síle De Valera, and call on her to carry out a hare survey as a matter of urgency. Contact Minister Síle DeValera, Department of Arts and Heritage, 43/49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-6670788 Ext 2321 or LoCall 1890-474847. Fax: 01-647 3101. Email:

Russia rejects bullfight debut

Authorities in Moscow have acted to halt the first ever bullfighting event in Russia.

The two-day event was to be held in the capital’s Olympic Stadium last September but thanks to intense pressure from animal welfare campaigners all over the world, city officials stepped in and announced that the event would not be allowed to go ahead.

ICABS letter writing campaigners can take some of the credit for this tremendous result. There was an excellent response to our August appeal in which we encouraged letters to be sent to the mayor of Moscow.

And Mayor Yury Luzhkov certainly listened to the calls for a bullfight ban.

He stated that even if the bulls were not to be killed in the Portuguese-style fights, it was still unacceptable because any form of bullfight is “a demonstration of violence”.

The head of the Russian Orthodox church also lent his support to the campaign, denouncing bullfighting as “propaganda for violence” and alien to Russian culture.

What we wouldn’t give here in Ireland for a lot more politicians and clergy who have the courage to speak out against blood sport barbarism.

Please write a letter to the mayor, congratulating him for his admirable move.

Contact Details: Mr. Yury Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow, Tverskaya Street 13, 103032 Moscow, Russia.

Linoso killed

Despite efforts by anti-cruelty campaigners in Ireland and all around the world, authorities in the Spanish village of Tordesillas allowed a bull to be speared to death in September during the annual Toro de Vega fiesta.

Linoso, a six-year-old bull, was released from a lorry in the village centre and chased by a savage crowd carrying spears and daggers. Linoso suffered their torment for more than 20 minutes before finally collapsing in agony and dying.

Disturbing photographs taken at the fiesta show a crowd of locals surrounding the bull and plunging spears into his body from both sides.

Spain's National Association for Animal Protection described the fiesta as "abhorrent, shameful and a horrendous crime in which a horde armed with spears, hound an animal with the sole purpose of spearing it in any part of its body until they kill it."

Nine injured at Pamplona bullrun

At least nine people were injured at the Pamplona bullrun in July.

The annual event involves a horde of people chasing and taunting six bulls on their half hour run through the streets of the town. The ordeal for the animals ends the following evening when they are stabbed to death by matadors.

a bull goring a man
A runner is struck by a bull before being gored in the groin at Pamplona. Six were critically injured at the infamous bullrun.

The list of injuries suffered by this year’s participants included thigh wounds, a broken leg and gore wounds to the knee, chest and groin. Over the years, the Pamplona bullrun - the so-called highlight of the local San Fermin festival - has claimed the lives of 14 people and hundreds of bulls.

More to hunts than misery to wildlife
Special report on the significant risks foxhunting poses to Irish farmers

As the current foxhunting season continues, farmers should be warned about the serious risks to their livelihoods caused by foxhunters.

According to recent reports in the farming press, certain lamb plants in this country record more liver rejections caused by a worm that uses the dog as an intermediate host than are caused by liver fluke. We are warned that kennel dogs (hunt hounds, for example) can be a problem here.

The role of hunts in the spread of lamb diseases was exposed in a 1986 Veterinary Record report which outlined that a major factor in the rejection of lamb livers for human consumption is “parasite infestation from hunt hounds fed on uncooked meat and offal from farm casualties”.

The report stated that out of all the lamb livers examined, 97 per cent were affected. More than 60 per cent of these were partially or wholly rejected as unfit for human consumption.

Meanwhile, farmers are being urged to use a flukicide which kills fluke at all stages of its development in sheep and bovine. Are they being told, however, about the implications of thousands or millions of hoof prints left on land by mounted hunts? Hoof prints happen to be the favourite habitat of the snails which act as intermediate hosts to the liver fluke parasite.

Dick Power
ICABS Agriculture Correspondent, Dick Power.

Modern fertilised pastures are very vulnerable to poaching and not just when they are wet. Are farmers being reminded that poached or hoof-damaged pasture land results in a huge reduction in grass yield the following spring.

According to an article in the Irish Farmers’ Journal in April 2000: “Research shows that the more severe the poaching done in autumn, the bigger the yield reduction in the spring. Plots that had been severely damaged in the autumn produced over 70 per cent less grass the following spring compared to plots that were not damaged.”

To work out how severe the poaching by hunts can be, simply consider those trotting or galloping hooves and the weight of the horses, their riders and saddles.

Note also the advice given to sheep owners. Emphasis is put on the necessity of avoiding putting ewes under stress, especially by keeping dogs away from them. As we know, hunted foxes trying to throw hounds off scent, deliberately or instinctively run through flocks of sheep, herds of bovines and over fields covered in slurry. As Robert Churchward pointed out, sheep and bovines gallop wildly in panic in all directions at the sight of an approaching pack of hounds.

A slurry covered field is said to be “a huntsman’s nightmare” but only because the presence of slurry almost always causes the hounds to lose the scent of the fox. That the slurry can harbour infectious diseases does not cost the hunters a thought. Do they care about carrying disease from one farm to the next? In the course of a day’s hunt, more than 50 farm boundaries can be crossed.

A foxhunt spokesperson once said that they would strongly resist any attempt by farmers to charge the hunt for the use of their land. As John Webster wrote in his March 1970 Irish Times article ‘The Havoc of the Hunt’, huntspeople are “unique in demanding that others supply for free the most expensive item in their ‘sport’”.

The land stands not only as the most expensive item in hunting but the most valuable item for farmers. Which is why more and more farmers are carefully considering the issue of hunt access. The risk of hunt’s negatively impacting farm livelihoods is now more clear than ever. And farmers are responding.

Look out for all the preservation notices in the newspapers warning hunts to keep out. Some of you may have seen the large notice in the Limerick Leader in December signed by 60 landowners and stating that “hunting on horseback and beagle hunting is strictly forbidden on our lands.”

There is much, much more to hunting than the misery inflicted on our wildlife. Hunts spread disease and cause serious damage to grass, Ireland’s most valuable crop.

Major companies support cruelty

Several well known companies have linked themselves to animal cruelty by advertising in a live hare coursing booklet.

Acorn Life was among the companies who supported the Mallow Coursing Club meeting last November.

In a statement within the booklet, the club chairman pointed to the importance of the “sponsors and advertisers who made this meeting possible”.

Local agents of Opel Ireland and Statoil also advertised in the booklet with the Opel dealer expressing “best wishes” to the club.

ICABS contacted the head offices of all the companies involved but few responded. One that did was Statoil.

“Statoil Ireland Limited does not support blood sports by sponsorship of any kind,” stated PR Manager Martina Byrne.

“With reference to the Statoil Station in Mallow, I regret I can be of little help to you. [The proprietor] is an independent businessman to whom we supply product and we cannot direct or instruct him in...where he chooses to advertise.”

Although Statoil did promise to bring our complaint to the attention of the proprietor, we found this to be an unsatisfactory response.

Most companies would take whatever steps were necessary to prevent their brand name from being associated with animal cruelty.

ICABS will continue to try and get a commitment from all the above companies to cease support for hare coursing.

Coursing clubs face net losses

A new law introduced in Northern Ireland could help bring hare coursing to an end in the six counties.

The amendment to the Game Preservation Bill was passed by the Northern Assembly and means that Ballymena and Dungannon coursing clubs will have to:

  • Apply to the Department of the Environment on an individual basis for licences to net hares

  • Present reasons why they should be allowed to catch hares in nets

  • Give an undertaking that the netting of hares will not harm the hare population

The new law comes as a shock to coursers in the North who had been celebrating the defeat of an earlier amendment to the Bill which would have made it entirely illegal to net hares.

According to reports, the coursers are hoping that the government can be convinced that the muzzling of greyhounds means hares are safe.

ICABS will be making a presentation to the Northern Assembly highlighting that hares are still being injured and killed by muzzled dogs. We will also bring to their attention our belief that the hare population in Ireland is severely under threat.

Words of wisdom

"Your government has promised to give the House of Commons an early opportunity to have a free vote and to enable Parliament to reach a conclusion on the issue. The time to do this has now come. We want to live in a country where it is illegal to inflict pain and suffering by hunting wild animals with dogs - an activity that we believe is cruel, unnecessary, unacceptable and outdated." (Paul McCartney in a letter to Tony Blair. The letter was also signed by Michaela Strachan, Jenny Seagrove and Twiggy. December 2001)

"Fox hunting is a cruel sport and it should be banned. All this cruelty must stop. I call upon Coillte to immediately withdraw all permits for fox and cub hunting on its lands." (Bishop Pat Buckley, News of the World, October 2001)

"We are appealing to anybody buying a Coillte Christmas tree in the coming days to think of the poor foxes which are being butchered." (Anti-hunting campaigner, Thomas Hardiman during a protest against Coillte in Galway, Sunday People, December 2001)

"Whether it's true or not is anyone's guess but we decided to give the fox the benefit of the doubt and include him in our crib. This much maligned creature deserves a break." (A friar at the Dominican Church in Limerick on a tale about a fox helping the Holy Family escape from King Herod, December 2001)

Campaign co-ordinator stresses protest power

In November last, ICABS held a conference in Jury’s Hotel, Cork with the aim of bringing supporters together to promote a strong and vibrant campaign in Cork City and county.

Addressing the meeting, Pat Phelan, former Chairman of ICABS and current co-ordinator of the campaign in Cork, exhorted local supporters to get active by staging protests at coursing meetings and outside the premises of businesses which continue to sponsor blood sports.

He said that such protests had proved extremely successful in the past.

Also speaking at the conference was Mike Huskisson, representing the League Against Cruel Sports and the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group.

Mike stressed the power of the video camera in fighting blood sports. Images of blood sport cruelty which can be supplied to the media are one of our strongest weapons in the fight.

It was such images which proved invaluable in getting public opinion on side in the U.K. where the campaign is at an advanced stage and victory now in sight.

Tony Moore of the Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe demonstrated the power of video in a series of disturbing displays showing the torture of animals in Spain. Tony and his late wife, Vicki, are responsible for exposing numerous acts of barbarism in Spain and their footage has led to bans on several cruel fiestas.

If you are a Cork supporter and would like to get active, call ICABS on 044-49848 and we will put you in touch with Pat Phelan.

Memorial award for brave Vicki

At the Cork Conference, Tony Moore of Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe received the Edward White Memorial Award on behalf of his beloved wife and co-campaigner, Vicki, who tragically died in 2000.

Vicki was filming a bullrun in Coria, Spain when she was trapped down a narrow street and charged by an enraged bull which was being persecuted by locals. She survived the horrific goring and, despite being in pain much of the time, she continued her campaigning work alongside husband Tony.

Tony Moore and Pat Phelan
Tony Moore (left) accepts a memorial award on behalf of his late wife, Vicki. Presenting the award is Pat Phelan.

Vicki’s tremendous work for the animals continued for a further five years up until her death in February 2000 when she finally succumbed to her injuries.

Accepting the award, an emotional Tony Moore told how the bull which gored Vicki had actually been chased towards her by bullrun participants.

The Edward White Memorial Award is a fitting tribute to this outstandingly brave and compassionate woman as it is in memory of another brave soul who gave his life for the animals.

Edward White, a labourer in the Cistercian Abbey of Melleray, Co. Waterford, died in 1987 while trying to save a hedgehog which had fallen into a slurry tank. Edward died after accidentally falling into the tank.

The Foxes
by T. O’Brien

The white rolls were spread carefully in a circle and on top were placed the crispy pieces of chicken and corned beef. The woman sat quietly under the trees, waiting for the little faces to appear.

She could hear the sea crashing on the rocks below as if in anger at the impending winter.

She sat quietly listening to the sound of trees blowing in the strong wind, shedding their leaves and sending masses of gold to the ground. The combined noise of the sea and the trees had a tranquility about it.

And then she heard it, that special crunching - the gentle noise of little paws carefully picking their way through the masses of leaves with determination. They knew exactly where they were going and what was going to be there for them.

Silently, the little shrubs parted and there appeared three tiny faces, looking carefully around.

Was it okay to come out? The smell of the crispy chicken overruled any fear.

They approached the rolls, taking a bit and then jumping back as if the rolls were going to bite them.

Behind them stood the vixen who was more cautious than they. She looked on disapprovingly at their antics.

This jumping around the food, playfully pushing each other out of the way, went on for hours. Three beautiful foxes with the vixen who faithfully came to her garden every night.

Two of the little ones were a pale grey, the other was a lovely bright red with a little white under his chin and the vixen was a paler red. She sometimes appeared tired from watching them, as they ate and chased one another until there was not a crumb left.

As the sea crashes on the rocks below, the woman watches the adorable little animals (so often misunderstood by some humans) and wonders if other people would be as kind to them as she?

All these foxes need is a little kindness. Is that too much to ask?

Campaign updates online

The ICABS website is continuing to maintain its popularity as a source of information on the campaign against blood sports.

Since its launch in 1999, has recorded nearly 5,000 visits.

We are currently looking for someone to help promote the site - a task that would involve asking other groups to link to us. If you have access to the internet and can spare an hour or so per week, please contact us.

Information available on our website site includes campaign updates, letter writing appeals, leaflets, petitions and online editions of Animal Watch.

Please bookmark the site today and keep in touch with the campaign and how you can help.

Thank you!

ICABS wishes to thank everyone who sent in subscriptions and donations since the last issue of Animal Watch.

Without your generous support, our work could not continue. Thank you also to those who continue to give their time to respond to our letter writing appeals and to help with other campaigning efforts.

Supporter runs mini marathon

Thank you and well done to Bree Daly of Midleton, Co. Cork who completed a sponsored mini-marathon run in Dublin last Autumn.

Bree raised £90 (€114.28) for the campaign. Our thanks also to all those who sponsored this fund-raising event.

TV programme endorses live hare coursing

ICABS is disappointed at TG4 for broadcasting a programme which presented live hare coursing as a fun activity. The upbeat item was shown last October on the ‘An Tuath Nua’ show.

The piece amounted to nothing less than a promotion of coursing with a presenter outlining the typical propaganda we all know so well. ICABS was dismayed to see the programme being aired in such a one-sided fashion.

Viewers were shown hares being caught from the wild, with one coursing enthusiast declaring that the hares are frightened out of the grass. Another scene showed a hare held by its ears, having a syringe forced into its mouth and its feet dipped into disinfectant.

At no point did the programme convey any hint of compassion for the timid animals. And in an apparent effort to present coursing in a positive and fun way, a pop music soundtrack was chosen and two young coursing enthusiasts were interviewed.

We are calling on TG4 to make amends by airing a programme that reveals coursing as it really is - a cruel blood sport which 80 per cent of Irish people want to see banned.

Please lodge a complaint to TG4 and demand that things are immediately balanced out. TG4, Baile na hAbhann, An Gaillimh. Tel: 091 505050. Fax: 091505021. Email:

Coursers dismissive of drag proposal

The Irish Coursing Club has rejected a proposal by the Department of Agriculture that live coursing be replaced with drag coursing.

At an October 2000 meeting between the Department and the Irish Coursing Club, it was proposed that the introduction of drag coursing - even on a trial basis - could be considered for some of the coursing meets.

However, the response from the coursers was that it wouldn’t be “feasible for the speed of coursing they have with the type of mechanical equipment that has been proposed”.

The proposal came following an ICABS presentation to Department officials in Cavan. We outlined how drag coursing is carried out successfully in Australia where the use of live lures is illegal. A video we submitted showed clearly how feasible drag coursing would be in Ireland.

While it is encouraging that this issue has been officially raised, we are disappointed that the Department of Agriculture appear to be allowing the coursers to call the shots. It seems they are accepting claims by the coursers that drag coursing would not work.

ICABS will be pursuing this further and demanding that the Department insists on drag coursing being introduced. Please help us by contacting Agriculture Minister, Joe Walsh at Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-607 2892 or LoCall 1890-200 150. Fax: 01-661 1013 Email:

Things They Said

“It’s tough on the club to find hares so if they’re stolen they’ll be sold off elsewhere quite easily. They can reach over £30 on the black market.” (A coursing fan commenting on the disappearance last December of hares set to be used at the Abbeyfeale coursing meeting. (Evening Echo, 4th January, 2001))

“The Masters usually have a committee to help them run fund-raising events. Foremost among these, of course, are the hunt ball and the point-to-point races.” (Comment taken from an Irish foxhunt website, Internet, September 2001)

“Overall the event was run in a professional and sporting manner.” (Dúchas conservation ranger, Robert Steal on the South Clare coursing club meeting at which 6 hares were killed and 15 hares were hit by greyhounds)

"Why does everyone think that we are blood thirsty individuals? I can assure you that we are not. We have respect for the animal that we are hunting and if it is wounded then we will spend all day looking for it and despatch it as soon as possible. If I could put into words how passionately I feel about this subject, I would be a very clever man." (A hunter admitting in an email to ICABS that he is not very clever, December 2001)

Pack attack dog

Meet the dog that survived an horrific attack by a pack of foxhounds.

The sheep dog, owned by a farmer in County Galway, is very lucky to be alive. As our picture shows the unfortunate animal suffered injuries to its hind quarters, its back and also its paws.

Sheep dog with injuries
Survivor: The farmer’s dog that was mauled by foxhounds.

Thanks to a week of veterinary attention, the badly shaken dog is back on his feet.

The incident is said to have taken place during a hunt meeting just before Christmas.

It remains unconfirmed whether the hunt in question were trespassing on the land on which the attack took place. Regardless, here we have yet another instance of a hunt being more of a threat to the farming community than foxes ever could be.

God against blood sport

A British bishop has said that God is anti-blood sports.

The Right Reverend Dominic Walker, Bishop of Reading and chairman of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals stated: “hunting cannot be pleasing to God".

He pointed out that humans had been given dominion and not domination over creation.

He added that the Church of England is not doing enough to oppose blood sports.

Barbaric Barbie

ICABS has joined calls for a bullfighting Barbie to be withdrawn from sale. The doll had previously been taken off the shelves by Mattel due to protests from anti-bullfight campaigners. However, the toy has now reappeared for sale on the Amazon website.

Letter writing campaigners

If you are keen to be part of a campaigning effort that you can carry out from the comfort of your own home, please join the ICABS letter writing team now.

Every 6 weeks, we issue a range of letter writing appeals - from writing to blood sports sponsors to lobbying politicians. Letter writing is an effective way of making your views known and it only takes a few minutes.

The more letter writers we have on board the better, so please sign up now. Simply tick the box on the enclosed subscription form.

Einstein Quote

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” (Albert Einstein)

Credits and contact details

Animal Watch is published by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
PO Box 88, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland.
Tel/Fax: 044-49848.

Editorial Team: Philip Kiernan and Aideen Yourell. Contributors: Aideen Yourell, Philip Kiernan, Sean Galligan, Tanya O'Brien, Thomas Hardiman, Dick Power, Peter Akokan. Layout and Design: Philip Kiernan. All submissions to Animal Watch should be sent for consideration to the above address along with your name, address and telephone number. The views expressed in Animal Watch are not necessarily those of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. When finished with this newsletter, please pass it on to a friend.

Newsletters | Contents | Subscribe | Top | Home