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Ward Union deer shot dead with bolt gun
23 April 2010

The Ward Union deer that was hit by a car during a hunt last December, was shot dead with a bolt gun it has emerged. The creature, which was fleeing from the pack of hounds at the time of the collision, suffered a fractured leg before a vet recommended that it be killed

Details of the animal's death were revealed following a Dail Question from Maureen O'Sullivan, TD. Minister Gormley stated that the deer "was shot with a bolt gun" after the Department's veterinary surgeon recommended that it "be euthanised on account of its injuries". Read the full text of the Dail Q&A below.

In a veterinary report seen by ICABS, the vet states that when he arrived on the scene of the collision, he entered land where the injuried deer was "being held by deer handlers".

"The deer had sustained a fracture of the right hind leg," he added. "I advised that the deer be euthanized immediately."

ICABS is questioning why a more humane method wasn't used. We are also asking why, despite the fact that there were two veterinary surgeons present on the scene, the deer was shot by a hunt kennelman.

What is a bolt gun: A handheld weapon used for euthanasia of large animals or for stunning animals prior to slaughter. The muzzle is placed against the animal's forehead. When the trigger is pulled, or the firing pin struck a sharp blow, a 3 cm rod, 1 cm diameter exits sharply from the muzzle and pierces the skull and damages the brain. (Source:

A Ward Union deer like this suffered a fractured leg during a Ward Union hunt when it collided with a car. A vet recommended that it be "euthanized immediately".

Dail Question and Answer

Question 782 - Answered on 20th April, 2010

Maureen O'Sullivan, TD: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the method used to destroy the Ward Union deer which collided with a car during the hunt on 11 December 2009; if this was carried out by the Department Vet present at the scene.

Written Answer. Ref No: 15021/10

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr John Gormley): I understand that the deer, which was put down at the hunt meeting on 11 December, 2009 organised by the Ward Union Hunt, was shot with a bolt gun under the supervision of the Department's veterinary surgeon who recommended that the deer be euthanised on account of its injuries. I am advised that the method used is considered to be effective and humane.


Please send "I support a ban on the Ward Union" to Environment Minister, John Gormley, and An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen - Send email now Ask all your friends, work colleagues, neighbours and family members who are against blood sports to support this action alert. Thank you.


Please contact your local TDs today and encourage them to vote in favour of the upcoming legislation. Tell them that their attitude towards animal issues and their commitment to bringing animal cruelty to an end will be a major factor in your voting decision.

Why not also arrange a meeting with your local politicians to discuss your concerns about animal cruelty and encourage them to take action.

Address your correspondence to:
Dáil Éireann
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2.

Find out the names of your TDs and their email addresses

Dear Deputy

I am writing to urge you to vote in favour of the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 which will outlaw the Ward Union deerhunt.

The unacceptable suffering caused to animals by this hunt is clearly presented in a new Irish Council Against Blood Sports leaflet which can be viewed at

I also encourage you to watch the following ICABS videos which explicitly show the cruelty: and

Deputy, I am one of the majority of the electorate who abhor animal cruelty. I want to see the Ward Union banned. Please do the right thing and vote in favour of the legislation.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,


Revoke hunt's licence before someone gets killed
16 December 2009

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on Minister John Gormley to permanently revoke the licence he issued to the Ward Union deer hunt. The call is being made on the grounds that it poses a real and present danger to motorists and it comes in the wake of an incident on Friday last when a hunted deer jumped onto a public road and collided with a car.

The deer sustained a leg injury and had to be destroyed. Thankfully, on this occasion no person was injured.

In correspondence with Minister John Gormley, ICABS has stated: "A collision with a deer could potentially result in serious injury and death to a motorist and we urge you to give serious consideration to the risks involved in allowing this hunt to continue."

As part of a submission, ICABS has provided Minister Gormley with photographic evidence showing cars and lorries being brought to a standstill as a pack of hunt hounds spilled out on to a public road. Another image shows a National Parks and Wildlife Service van on a clogged-up road being forced to reverse to allow oncoming traffic to pass. The NPWS official was present to monitor the hunt on behalf of Minister Gormley.

This is not the first time a deer has been chased onto public roads by the Ward Union and their pack of hounds.

Just last year, a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger reported that he was forced to "brake hard" to avoid a fatal collision with a Ward Union deer. The ranger who was monitoring the hunt on 25 November 2008 said he "narrowly avoided killing" the animal.

While monitoring the same hunt in the past, members of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports had to take evasive action to avoid crashing into a deer which was being chased around a corner into oncoming traffic. Only by braking hard and swerving were we able to avoid a collision with the terrified animal.

Over the years, we have continually flagged the dangers posed by the hunt.

As far back as 1997, a Department of Agriculture report ("Monitoring of the Stag Hunts conducted by the Ward Union Hunt by K.W. S. Kane, Veterinary Inspector"), acknowledged that "Stags are frightened by motor vehicles when they cross public roads, which they frequently do during hunts." He added that "during the six hunts attended the Dublin-Slane road was crossed three times by a stag and five times by the Hunt; the Dublin-Navan road was crossed once by stag and hunt."

A Department of Agriculture official monitoring the Ward Union during the 1997-98 season referred to the hazards associated with hunts on roads. In his report, he stated that the "deer were at risk of injury when crossing roads."

In a 2003 submission to then Minister for Transport, we highlighted a report from a NPWS ranger who monitored the Ward Union hunt on March 5th, 2002. The ranger outlined that "the stag took off in the direction of Dunshaughlin where it crossed the main N3".

In 2004, following an ICABS appeal, the National Safety Council told the Ward Union Deerhunt to stay off the public roads in the interests of road safety. Responding to concerns that the hunt poses a potential danger to road users in Meath and North County Dublin, an NSC spokesperson stated at the time that: "We would have obvious concerns if such [hunt] practices posed a danger to road users. We will be writing to the Ward Union Hunt to communicate these concerns and that in the interests of road safety we would request that all appropriate precautions be taken to prevent incursions (by deer/stag, dogs and the hunt party) onto the public highway during hunting outings."

The Government has promised that legislation to ban the Ward Union is due in the New Year but, in the interests of preventing further incidents and danger to motorists, ICABS is demanding that the licence be immediately revoked.

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