Save cubs from cubhunting cruelty
16 August 2012

Cubs around Ireland face weeks of bloody barbarity as the cubhunting season begins again this month. Earths will be surrounded by foxhunters and their hounds will be goaded into attacking and killing the defenceless infants - all part of a merciless training exercise for new foxhunting hounds.

Cub hunting takes place in the depths of the countryside in the early hours after dawn. Hunters bring their hounds to a fox earth and flush out the cubs within. The defenceless creatures are attacked, dragged to the ground and bitten to death.

This brutality is carried out to introduce new hounds to the taste of fox blood ahead of another hunting season. It also serves to disperse foxes - siblings of slaughtered cubs are scattered so that their wider distribution will later provide a larger hunting area.

The hunters like to refer to their barbarity as 'Autumn hunting' but their euphemism doesn't disguise the fact that it's one of Ireland's nastiest acts of cruelty.

Please take action to help stop the cruelty. Respond now to the action alerts below.


Keep hunters off your land

If you are a landowner, make your land off-limits to hunters. Find out more about how to do this on our Farmers/Landowners Page.

Encourage all land-owning friends and family members in the countryside to show compassion and make their land a haven for wildlife. If hunters are denied access to land, the resident wildlife will be spared the suffering of cubhunting and foxhunting.

See our selection of downloadable "No Hunting" Signs.

If trespass occurs, contact the Gardai. Obtain photo/video evidence whenever possible.


Contact Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney now and demand that a hunting exemption is removed from the Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 and that a full ban on digging out and terrierwork is introduced.

Minister Simon Coveney
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-607 2884 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.

Dear Minister Coveney,

I support the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' call on you to ensure that foxhunting, cubhunting, digging out and terrier work are among the activities outlawed under the new Animal Health and Welfare Bill. There is absolutely no excuse for this shameful animal abuse.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,


Appeal to all Irish politicians

Please join us in telling the Irish Government that it is now time to replace foxhunting, and all its associated cruelty, with the humane alternative - drag hunting.

Drag hunting sees the hounds chasing an artificial lure instead of a live animal. This form of "hunting" is already practised successfully by a few groups in Ireland. In a modern and civilised country like Ireland, there should be no place for foxhunting, particularly when a transition to drag hunting would be simple.

We desperately need your help to convince the government that it is time to ban foxhunting. Please write to all of your local politicians and ask them to express their opposition to this blood sport.

Encourage your friends, family and workmates to contact them too.

Write to your TD at:
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889.

Write to your Senator at:
Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 732 623.

Find out the names of your TDs and their email addresses

The cubhunting horror "I will never forget"
10 January 2012

An ICABS supporter in Limerick recalls the horrors he witnessed at a cubhunt over 40 years ago. Shockingly, Irish foxes continue to suffer the same barbarism in 2012.

When I was a boy of 5 years old, I was taken to a cubbing. Even today, 43 years later, I can clearly recall the event.

The excitement of the men present. There were no women. The terror of the foxcubs. The frenzy of the dogs. The noise of the kill. Afterwards the mangled remains of the cubs, the entrails, the blood. Afterwards the shame of my father that he had attended this and worse, had brought his child to it. Even worse, it was on our farm. When my mother found out she was blind with rage. Blind with rage.

Many of those men are still alive. I remember one of them. He used foul language to one of the dogs because the dog was a coward. He only tore the cub when it was dead. He was afraid of being bitten while it was alive. When the show was over, the man took the dog away to kill it. He tied it to a stake. He was going to hit it with the spade that he had used to dig out the cubs.

My father stopped him and we got the dog as a pet. He was a little black and brown terrier called Tiny.

I will never forget. I will never forget.

'Abhorrent' cruelty being committed
Galway Independent

21 September 2011

Dear Editor,

Throughout September and October, one of the most abhorrent examples of cruelty is being committed in the countryside. Cub hunting involves flushing infant foxes out of their earths and goading hounds into tearing them apart.

The existence of this gruesome practice spotlights the glaring inadequacy of our animal welfare laws but also the lies hunters hide behind. Trying to downplay their depravity, they often maintain that only old and sick foxes are killed (as if this might make it more acceptable). The casualties of "cubbing", however, are unmistakably young and healthy.

They claim it's natural for a pack of hounds to chase a fox but the truth is that, during cub hunting, new hounds are unnaturally introduced to the taste of fox blood and trained to attack a creature which poses them no threat. They tell farmers they are eliminating a so-called pest species, whereas part of the purpose of cub hunting is to force the dispersal of foxes. Siblings of slaughtered cubs are scattered so that their wider distribution will later provide a greater hunting area.

Unsurprisingly, farmers are increasingly recognising that any perceived problem with foxes is eclipsed by hunters poaching pastures, spreading disease, disturbing livestock and damaging boundaries. This autumn, landowners and legislators are urged to hear the cries of the cubs and act to spare them the suffering.

Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports

Videos: Foxhunting cruelty

Slideshow: The cruelty of foxhunting in Ireland

The cruelty of foxhunting

The following list conveys just some of the cruelty of foxhunting and the suffering caused to foxes.

A 2011 Farmers' Journal hunting report told of how sixteen mounted followers of the Westmeath hunt, along with 29 hounds, found a fox that was caught and "chopped." Later on, another fox was "overhauled before he managed to put any distance between himself and them." Both "chopped" and "overhauled," in hunting terminology, mean that the fox was caught by the hounds and brutally killed.
A fox being chased by a pack of hunt hounds was forced to swim across a canal twice in a desperate bid to try and save its life. "The fox and the pack swam across the canal and continued along the banks to the Mullingar/Ballynacargy Road...the fox, with four and a half couple (9 hounds) in pursuit, swam the canal again before retracing their steps back to Newman's Bog." From a report about Westmeath Foxhounds, Irish Field, 2nd February 2008.
In 2007, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called for a Garda investigation into allegations that the Westmeath Foxhounds club threw a live fox, which had been dug out of the earth, to a pack of hounds to be killed. In an Irish Independent article (November 23 2007), a local landowner who was quoted as having said "They tied the rope to his leg and pulled him out of the burrow and fed him straight to the dogs. They ate the fox alive."
The following are extracts from a report which was published in the Irish Field of March 3rd, 2007. They provide a grim reminder of the plight of foxes chased by foxhunting groups. "Hounds were hunting within 15 minutes of moving off and there was a brace (of foxes) afoot. One was hunted up the valley with great cry but was lost. They soon found again and caught it after a nice hunt."

"[Each pack of hounds] must be serious fox-catchers...the fox had to work very hard to keep ahead of the hounds...Eventually they pushed hard enough to force [the fox] to make good his escape and he was away across open country. After a fine hunt, hounds were rewarded [i.e. the fox was killed]."

"They found within 10 minutes and hunted and caught the fox as he headed for Stran. Another sharp 50 minute hunt followed and the rest of the day was spent hunting the glen..."

The hounds "caught this fellow [a fox] and drew back towards Jerry Leahy's land where they found another who managed to go to ground..."

"They first drew above the village and had a fox on the move. He ran through some young plantings and up the hill, across the land and into a more mature planting. Four couple had hunted the line and it was not long before Ryan had the rest in the plantation. They manage to push him out and he went back to where he came..."

"The fox swung in a big circle and ran back along the bottom of the valley and hounds checked by the stream...they were put right and soon pushed him out into the open land above."

"As well as giving many people a lot of fun, it also managed to raise 3,200 for cancer research"

Crassly described as "vulpine suicide", an Irish hunting report has described how a pair of foxes perished after desperately trying to get away from the pursuing pack of hounds. The Irish Field of February 3rd, 2007 included a disturbing account of the horrific deaths. The following is an extract from the report.

"[The Limerick Harriers huntsman] told of twice this season when a good hunt had been spoiled by the fox committing the equivalent of vulpine suicide. As his hounds were pressing their quarry in one hunt, it turned to the road for sanctuary, only to be run over by a car. On another occasion hounds had pressed their fox hard and were not very far behind him when he jumped into a slurry pit and drowned."

A fox had to endure a gruelling 80 minute chase during a hunt in County Galway, according to an Irish Field report. "As soon as [the huntsman] cast his pack in Pump Bog, they found a fox and were away for what was to be a run of one hour and twenty minutes," the report stated, adding that the hunt terrier was among the dogs chasing the unfortunate fox.
"...a fox can keep ducking in and out of close-knit coverts so it is a case of getting your hounds close on a fox so that you give him no respite and keep him on the move." (The Irish Field, January 3rd, 2004).
"We hunted a fox as fast as we could go for 1 hour and 20 minutes. All the time we could hardly keep the hounds in sight as the snow was falling so heavily." A foxhunter described his "best hunt" outing. (The Irish Field, January 31st, 2004).
"Here we got a marvellous view of a smallish dark red fox with a good white tag crossing the winter barley, all in the winter sunshine. Hounds were only seconds behind..." (From a report on the Coolnakilla Harriers, The Irish Field, January 10th, 2004).
"Probably one of the most enjoyable hunts was on foot last year when we had a joint-meet with Macroom Foot Foxhounds at Tullylease on St Patrick's Day. We had a run of about 14 miles as the fox just ran on and on." (The Irish Field, February 7th, 2004).
"The problem for both Irish and British hunting people is that their sport, no matter how traditional or how highly eulogised by its supporters, is a minority sport with the damning spectre of cruelty hanging over it. This is the key issue. Is hunting cruel? The answer, of course, is that it is. How can such cruelty be justified? The answer is that it cannot." Nicholas O'Hare, hunting columnist, "The Irish Field" (1992)
"Foot followers stayed with the three couple of hounds and got a great view of a smashing red fox as he crossed the Cullenagh Road. He wasn't exactly rushing and took a minute to look back to see where the hounds were. Little did he know that they had accounted for [killed] one of his relations on the way and now had him in their sights." (Report on the Limerick Harriers Hunt, Irish Field, 21st February 2004).
"Hounds hunted a cub along my boundary fence..." (The Irish Field, September 10th, 2005)
"Terriers were some time in coming as car followers were the wrong side of the wind for hearing. A quick dig followed and two foxes were dispatched. Eamon had a brush for Clarissa and a fox's tongue which he intends pickling in vinegar to cure warts and draw thorns." Westmeath Foxhounds, Hunt Report, Irish Field, December 1991.
"Hunts are more likely to kill the old, maimed and infirm foxes...a sort of mopping up operation." James Norton, PRO, Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association. Morning Ireland, RTE, August 8th, 1997.
A fox disturbed from a hedgerow was forced to run for a gruelling 30 minutes, according to a report in the Irish Field newspaper. The fox was one of several terrorised during a Galway Blazers hunt earlier this year. Another desperately ran across a road to try and lose the pursuing pack.

"Another fox had been sitting tight and was not disturbed by the pack when they were passing through on the previous occasion," the January report outlined. "He broke cover and crossed the road in the direction of The Fingerboards in anticipation of shaking off the pack. The bitches were having none of it though and ran him through to Shangarry, turning him and then running him in a circle all the way back to the find. This was over some of the very best stone wall country, including many well-built doubles."

A third fox referred to in the report was disturbed from an "overgrown boreen" and was chased by hounds along "a fast run downhill through the plantation and to ground".

I have been to a hunt in a place called Knockbrack, Athenry, and I saw all this going on. It's a vulgar act. No fox deserves to be killed in such a horrible way...Digging out of foxes at their dens and killing should be stopped completely...There's no sport in digging the clay away from his den and letting the hounds in on top of him, dragging him out and tearing him to pieces. I have heard the huntsman on one occasion when the hounds were killing a fox, shout "break him up." That's not sport. Hunter, turned anti-hunt campaigner, Tom Hardiman
Extracts from "Earth Dog, Running Dog" magazine, 2009 (Ballymacad Hunt): "Hounds hunted hard for about 20 minutes before the fox broke away and made for cover...he was headed for a big badger sett which had been stopped and so he had to kick on a bit. His safe haven being denied to him, he had to get a move on for hounds were flying and really pushing him and after another ten minutes of hard hunting he went to ground..."

"We were there very quickly [with hunt terriers] as we tried for a quick bolt. My own little bitch, Gem, was entered and she was soon at her fox. It was evident that he was not for bolting and so [the huntsman] lifted his hounds and headed for the next draw leaving us with a nice little dig..."

"We could hear Gem working away, starting to boss her fox and we still hoped for a bolt for we had set nets and sure enough, after 15 minutes, [the fox] hit the net like a runaway train with my bitch close behind her. Magic, first of the day..."

"On to the next draw and we soon heard "gone to ground" again as our hounds pushed a dog fox and a vixen into a tight spot under a stone wall. As we got there, [the whipper-in] was blocking two was a very tight stone wall so I used a small bitch of mine called Nala...Nala entered the tight gap and found immediately. We gave her ten minutes to settle and then got a mark at two feet, just off the wall. It took us about 15 minutes to reach her with the vixen but it looked as if the dog would be a tricky customer and cause a few problems. He was further along and had managed to find a place up on a ledge where he could give a good account of himself. We dug to her but the fox had gained himself a good position and was certainly making things difficult for her and giving her a hard time."

"I had with me that day a very good Border dog...and so I sent for him. I lifted out the small red bitch and dropped in Skipper, the Border. He banged straight in there, took a hold and drew this big dog fox back to me. Job done, another two accounted for."

A fox was pursued for over 3 hours during a hunting festival in County Limerick, the Irish Field newspaper has reported.`The eight day festival - praised by the paper as "a marathon of hunting" - was organised by Limerick's Abbeyfeale Harriers and involved several harrier and fox hunts. "Plenty of foxes were found," the report stated, focussing particularly on the one which had to endure several hours of hunting. "With no horses, Will was in Wellingtons and a Barbour but his hounds hunted none the worse for that. They found and hunted the same fox for three hours and 10 minutes."
Hounds were seen "pushing a fox for 50 minutes in terrible driving rain before catching it". From a hunting report.
The Irish Field outlined how "the fox ran on through Rusheen near Drewscourt Bridge, swinging left-handed back into Co Limerick. He then took a line that brought him back to the plantation close to where they found him. They gave him best as they were running back into the country already hunted after a run of one hour and 35 minutes at a cracking pace."

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