Animal Voice - December 2005
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
In This Issue:
01 Christmas Message
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports wishes all its supporters a happy and peaceful Christmas. We thank you for all your campaigning work throughout 2005 and look forward to your continued dedication to the campaign in 2006. Together, we can make a difference for Irish animals.
A candle light vigil to highlight the abuse of animals in Ireland will take place this Friday, 9th December, outside Dail Eireann, Kildare Street, Dublin.
Organised by Animal Rights Action Network and the Irish Anti-vivisection Society, the event will run from 7pm to 9pm.
The groups say that the peaceful vigil aims to "shine light on all forms of cruelty in Ireland, be it blood sports, fur farming, animal experiments, greyhound racing, animals in circuses and much more". Those wishing to demonstrate their opposition to animal cruelty in Ireland are being invited to attend the event.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) has learned that two deer were hounded to their deaths by the Ward Union hunt during the 2004-05 season.
The deer deaths were recorded in a Department of Agriculture report obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act. A veterinary inspector from the Department highlighted in the report how one deer died from fractured ribs while another died from a ruptured aortic aneurism.
Meanwhile, a senior National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) official has stated that he "strongly opposes" the licensing of the hunt. Jim Moore, the NPWS Regional Manager in whose area the Ward Union operate, expressed his belief that since the deer used are not wildlife, Minister Dick Roche should not license the hunt.
In a memo to NPWS HQ (obtained by ICABS under the FOI Act), Mr Moore stated: "...I believe the Ward Union Hunt Club hunt deer that are not wild animals and as such are not the subject of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000." He further went on to state that "there is a perception amongst certain NGOs etc that the National Parks & Wildlife Service is conveniently being used and is agreeing to license something which otherwise may be highly illegal. I do not wish to be associated with such perception and I urge you to consider carefully the implications of issuing this licence, the granting of which I strongly oppose."
Despite this, Dr Alan Craig, the NPWS Director who advises Minister Dick Roche, continues to assert that the Minister may grant a licence under the Wildlife Act to hunt these farm-bred deer, citing the fact the word "wild" is not mentioned in Section 26 (which provides for licensing the hunting of deer with a pack dogs). In the Wildlife Act 2000 Amendment, however, a wild animal is clearly defined as "primarily living independent of human husbandry".
The Ward Union deer are bred in captivity and are kept in paddock-type enclosures in Dunshaughlin. They are maintained and fed, similar to farm animals. ICABS believes that they are clearly not wild animals and indeed the Ward Union themselves have admitted this. In a document submitted to the Heritage Council as part of a Wildlife Act review, the Ward Union made the following statement: "As the WU deer are bred and maintained in a private enclosed deer park and looked after by a team of experts, they could not accurately be described as wildlife".
ICABS has called for a Garda investigation into the hounding to death of the two deer last season. We contend that the Ward Union hunt is in breach of the 1911 Protection of Animals Act by terrorising and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Please write to Minister Dick Roche and demand an end to carted deer hunting in Ireland. Urge him to give a commitment that no further licences will be issued to the Ward Union.
Minister Dick Roche
Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Dear Minister Roche,
I am writing to ask why you granted another licence to the Ward Union despite a NPWS recommendation that this hunt should not receive a licence.
Due to the injury and death caused to domesticated deer by the Ward Union, I implore you to immediately revoke their licence and to give a commitment that no further licence applications will be considered.
Thank you. I look forward to your reply.
Show you care about wildlife this holiday season - choose from our selection of 9 exclusive Christmas cards to give to family and friends. Now available to download and print from the ICABS website, the cards feature deer, foxes, a robin, a seal and a fox-rescuing Santa!
In the September 2005 edition of Animal Voice, we were delighted to report how the Poundworld chain of shops responded positively to an ICABS appeal and removed glue traps from sale.
Sadly, similar traps continue be sold in other shops around Ireland. The glue traps are designed not to kill their victim mice and rats outright but to catch them in a sticky base where they will suffer a slow, lingering death. Veterinary surgeons who have condemned the traps have detailed how "there is much suffering by the entrapped animals - it is not a sudden or merciful death, but one brought on by starvation and thirst."
In a desperate bid to escape death, the doomed creatures frantically struggle to free themselves by pulling out their hair or even biting off their own limbs. If they don't die from these injuries or from suffocation due to their faces becoming stuck in the glue, they spend up to five days dying from starvation and dehydration.
Please join us now in our bid to rid Ireland of these inhumane traps. Visit your local hardware stores, pet supply stores, discount shops (the Euro 2 chain are currently selling the traps) and DIY shops and if the traps are on sale, appeal to the manager to stop selling them. Photos of glue trap packaging are available to view on the ICABS website.
Please contact the Managing Director of McLoughlin's Hardware Wholesalers, one of the companies distributing glue traps in Ireland.
The League Against Cruel Sport has expressed its concerns over the results of the latest survey into hare numbers in Northern Ireland.
The survey, carried out by Quercus (a research partnership between Northern Ireland's Environment and Heritage Service and Queen's University, Belfast), has revealed that the hare population has decreased in the last year.
The League has called for greater protection for the hare and an immediate ban on hare coursing.
The group's Northern Ireland spokesperson, Fionna Smyth, commented: "We are very concerned that one of Ireland's best-loved native species appears to be in decline. We must do all we can to protect the Irish hare and in particular we must ensure that hare coursing and all the cruelty associated with it does not continue. The League and its supporters are concerned that there is currently no ban on hare coursing, because the temporary protection ordered last year by Angela Smith MP has lapsed."
"It would be indefensible to allow Irish hares to be recklessly treated and killed for human entertainment given the decline in numbers," she added. "The League Against Cruel Sports will continue to campaign for an outright ban on this barbaric sport and for the statutory protection of the Irish hare."
As in the Republic of Ireland, a majority of people in Northern Ireland want coursing banned. A Millward Brown poll carried out in 2003 found that 85 per cent of rural people believe that hare coursing is cruel, 73 per cent believe it is immoral and 70 per cent want to see it brought to an end.
View the full text of the Quercus report:
A new report detailing Ireland's Species Action Plans has acknowledged that "unsustainable taking of hares for sporting purposes" can impact negatively on the Irish Hare species.
The document - jointly published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Northern Ireland's Environment & Heritage Service - also stresses that "freedom from disturbance are essential if Irish hare numbers are to be maintained at present levels".
This statement has led ICABS to tell Minister Dick Roche that any serious effort to conserve the hare species must include a ban on coursing. Coursing clubs are responsible for an enormous disturbance of hares - removing thousands from the wild every year for use in the blood sport.
Hares are kept captive in coursing compounds for up to two months before being forced to run for their lives in front of greyhounds. During the time in captivity, some hares:
- die from being hit by greyhounds
Furthermore, the removal from the wild of nursing female hares means that the motherless leverets left behind will almost certainly die. Even after release, hares remain vulnerable to dying from capture myopathy and injuries.
The NPWS/EHS report refers to anecdotal evidence which "supports the impression of a decline in Irish hare populations in the past couple of decades", adding that until a comprehensive survey is carried out, it is impossible to draw any conclusions. It is this uncertainty about the current hare status that prompted ICABS to demand Minister Roche to refuse a licence to coursers. Our appeal was dismissed and thousands of hares which should be living free in the wild are currently incarcerated in coursing compounds around the country.
One of the actions proposed in the report is to "conduct research into possible effects of hare coursing and beagling on the population dynamics of the Irish hare". ICABS believes that, from annual documents filed by NPWS rangers who monitor coursing activities, the effects are already obvious.
Under the heading "Policy and legislation", there is a proposal to "review and, if necessary, increase the level of protection given to the Irish hare in the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 and the Wildlife Act 1976." While the hare is already a protected species under the current Wildlife Act, the same legislation also protects coursing, stating that "it is illegal to trap or sell hares other than for the specific purpose of coursing them." ICABS will continue to press for this exemption to be deleted from the Act because only then will hares enjoy true protection from blood sports.
A copy of the Species Action Plan report can be viewed from:
ICABS has reported a hunting priest to the Bishop of Limerick and renewed our call for an end to clergy involvement in blood sports.
In our letter to Most Rev Donal Murray, we highlighted an Irish Field article which stated that "...I don't think that Fr Brouder from Crecora Parish made it [on horseback over a river bank] either, even with access to more divine sources."
We urged Bishop Murray to persuade Fr Brouder to end his involvement with foxhunting, not only because of the terrible animal cruelty involved in the blood sport but also because participation in hunting is contrary to the Catholic Catechism. Paragraph 2418 makes it clear that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly."
The hunt which Fr Brouder reportedly participated in, involved a run of over an hour and a half. The Irish Field outlined how "the fox ran on through Rusheen near Drewscourt Bridge, swinging left-handed back into Co Limerick. He then took a line that brought him back to the plantation close to where they found him. They gave him best as they were running back into the country already hunted after a run of one hour and 35 minutes at a cracking pace."
Thank you to everyone who has already written to the RDS about the continued inclusion of the Hunt Chase event at the annual Dublin Horse Show.
The Hunt Chase is a showjumping competition exclusively for hunting groups. ICABS has renewed its appeal to the RDS to drop the event from its 2006 show. "By hosting the hunt chase, the RDS is disregarding the reality of hunting, we stated in a letter to Events Manager, Neil Campbell.
Please ask the RDS to stop promoting hunting by inviting hunt groups to compete at the venue. ICABS appeals to the general public to bear the hunt chase in mind when considering attending concerts or other events at the RDS throughout the year.
Dear Mr Campbell,
I am writing to appeal to you, the RDS Events Manager, to drop the Hunt Chase from the 2006 Dublin Horse Show.
Hunting involves horrendous animal abuse and it really is unacceptable for the RDS to associate with groups connected to this cruelty. It is worth mentioning that the foxhunting and deerhunting activities which the hunts in question normally engage in are now illegal in our neighbouring jurisdictions of England, Scotland and Wales.
As one of the majority in Ireland who oppose animal cruelty, I call on the RDS to show compassion and stop inviting hunts in to compete in this showjumping competition.
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
In the April 2005 edition of Animal Voice, we highlighted a Toyota radio advert in which a woman stated that "cats are disgusting". Following a number of complaints, the company has apologised for the disquiet caused by the ad which is no longer in use.
In a letter to an ICABS supporter, a Toyota Ireland spokesperson stated: "Let us assure you that we do not in any way aim to create advertisements which are offensive to our customers. Furthermore let us categorically reassure you we do not in any way support or promote cruelty to any animal. We regret and apologise [for] any disquiet that you have experienced. We have taken the liberty of forwarding your comments onto our Marketing Department for their prompt attention."
ICABS welcomes this response and hopes the company will refrain from using anti-animal themes in future ad campaigns.
TDs Tony Gregory and Ciaran Cuffe have questioned the Environment Minister about the Ward Union deerhunt. Minister Roche confirmed that two deer sustained fatal injuries during last season.
Question 239 - Answered on 1st December 2005
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of deer killed during the 2004-05 Ward Union hunt; the causes of death; the circumstances in which they sustained fatal injuries; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ref No: 37369/05
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr Dick Roche): The report on the monitoring of the Ward Union hunt for the 2004-05 season compiled by Department of Agriculture and Food veterinary inspector indicated that two stags died during hunts. Both animals died following recapture: one from a ruptured pericardium and the other from a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Prior to issuing a licence for the 2005-06 season, officials of my Department met representatives of the Ward Union hunt and outlined their concerns that these fatalities incurred. The outcome was the inclusion of new conditions in the licence to improve recapture procedures and limiting recapture of the deer to when this can be done without danger to the deer.
Question 240 - Answered on 1st December 2005
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason a licence was granted to the Ward Union hunt due to the recommendation of the local regional manager of the National Parks and Wildlife Service that it may be highly illegal and should not be licensed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Ref No: 37374/05)
Question 247 - Answered on 1st December 2005
Ciaran Cuffe: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will intervene to stop the Ward Union deer hunt on the grounds that it breaches the Protection of Animals Act. (Ref No: 37374/05)
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr Dick Roche): I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 247 together.
I refer to the reply to Question No. 528 of 29 November 2005. Issues relating to animal welfare are the statutory responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture and Food under section 2 of the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1965 and section 1 of the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes Act 1984.
For more Dail Q&A relating to the campaign against blood sports, please visit our Politicians Page.
An Irish Independent columnist has called for Dublin Zoo to be shut down. In his November 5th Diary article, Peter Cunningham focused on the plight of the incarcerated animals and described zoos as depressing.
"Why do we bother keeping tigers and lions and gazelles and monkeys cooped up in wet paddocks and cramped cages for the Irish winter?" he asked. "Even in such world famous zoos as those in San Diego and in Sydney, where the climate is mostly sunny and warm, the sight of orang-utans loping around their enclosures, or of leopards walking endlessly up and down their cages, their primal urge to roam and kill forever denied them, jars my conscience."
Mr Cunningham went on to dismiss claims by zoos that they serve an educational role. "We don't need to capture and enclose these creatures," he wrote. "We no longer need them to educate us about faraway lands, since we can watch them in their natural settings with the touch of a button. It feels like an abuse of power to continue their unnatural imprisonment."
Also rubbished in the column were boasts by zoos that they help conserve species. "I am aware of the argument that emphasises the role of zoos in saving endangered animals by breeding them in captivity, but isn't this the usual self-justifying tosh one always hears from quangos?" Mr Cunningham added. "Okay, some pandas have been bred successfully in China, and a bison or two elsewhere, but do these random successes allow us to keep large numbers of animals locked up for entertainment and commercial purposes? Seeing a zebra that deserves to be galloping across the plains below Kilimanjaro confined to a pony paddock does nothing for my respect for zoologists."
Please avoid visiting zoos. Tell others about the suffering of caged animals and ask them to boycott Dublin Zoo. Contact the principals of your local schools and ask them to stop organising school trips to the zoo.
Madonna has announced that she no longer engages in bird shooting as a hobby. As reported in the Summer 2004 edition of Animal Voice, the pop legend often joined husband, Guy Ritchie, on bird shoots on their Wiltshire estate.
But, as revealed to Tatler Magazine, her involvement in the bird blasting has now ended. The reason? She finally realised that shooting birds from the sky causes suffering.
"I was mad for shooting a couple of years ago," she is quoted as saying. "I used to go for lessons at the West London Shooting School, and I loved my bespoke outfits and everything. It was so much fun. That all changed when a bird dropped in front of me that I'd shot. It wasn't dead. It got up and it was really suffering. Blood was gushing out of its mouth and it was struggling up this hill and I thought 'Oh God, I did that'. I caused the suffering of this creature."
The League Against Cruel Sports is now calling on Madonna to end all birds shoots on her property. Shooting parties continue to be held on the Ashcombe Estate and past guests have included Brad Pitt and courser, Vinnie Jones.
Winner of an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2002, Jacques Perrin's Winged Migration remains one of the most stunning records ever of nature in action.
Lovingly captured by a team of 14 cinematographers based on all seven continents, this is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in wildlife.
Now available on DVD, Winged Migration will bring you on a spectacular species-by-species journey as the film's subjects embark on their migratory journey through 40 countries.
Thanks to a dedicated team of 17 pilots (in planes, gliders, helicopters and hot air balloons!) you will ascend skyward to experience a breathtaking flight above, behind and alongside the varied cast of characters.
Largely commentary-free and with minimal use of informational subtitles, the uninterrupted feeling of being there, free among the flocks, is encouraged. Join them as they circle the poles, shelter from a downpour in the Amazon, take their first dizzying dives from a cliff and touch down for a rest on a warship. As spectacular are the scenes where the skylines of New York and Paris form the backdrops. As they swan into the city, it's hard not to feel envious at their boundless freedom.
But soaring majestically above the wingless is only part of the story. The life of a migrating bird has its downsides and these are touched upon throughout.
As well as the gruelling journey they instinctively make twice yearly (this ranges from hundreds to tens of thousands of miles), they have to contend with pollution, modern farming techniques, the trade in exotic pets and, of course, shooting.
One scene poignantly presents the awful impact shooters have on the birds. One moment, a flock are happily flying along and the next, some are seen spiralling towards the ground with the sound of gunfire accompanying their deathly descent. It's a powerful moment where viewers are left with no doubt about the enormity of this transgression against nature. The birds have flown an exhausting journey only to be stopped by bullets fired by hunters lurking in the bushes.
Shooting is an activity producer and co-director Jacques Perrin clearly disapproves of. He has the greatest of respect for the birds and you can tell that he struggles to understand this abhorrent hobby of killing for fun.
Commenting on the scene where the hunters shoot from the shadows, he points out that these particular birds had flown for 5,000 kilometres before being blasted from the sky. "Some people are waiting [with their guns] and they stop this moment. They stop the movement of life. It's difficult to accept that. It's very difficult."
Says co-director Jacques Cluzaud: "Hunters have acquired stronger means [with] a series of cartridges. Some areas are final walls for these birds. Blocking their progression. For a migratory bird to remain free, it needs two places for summer and winter. And the trip in between must be possible and hopefully doesn't end with lead in their bodies."
If Winged Migration isn't already part of your DVD collection we highly recommend flying out now to get a copy. Once you watch it, you'll never see birds in the same light again.
Fox sat in his room. He was bored. "I know," he said. "I need a friend." So begins the heart warming story of Fox Makes Friends, a gorgeously illustrated book which children are sure to adore.
The fox, squirrel and rabbit characters are brought to life in this visual treat by artist Adam Relf. As a wildlife enthusiast, he presents the characters in a positive light throughout the 32 pages - parents will find it refreshing that there is no negative, cliched misinformation about foxes present here! A joy to read and to look at, Fox Makes Friends is highly recommended.
Fox Makes Friends is published by Macmillan Children's Books (ISBN 1405053852) and costs around 15 Euro.
"The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has expressed 'grave concerns' about the Ward Union and has challenged the Department of the Environment's decision that the law allows for licences to be granted for the hunting of deer bred in captivity. ICABS spokeswoman Aideen Yourell said: 'While the law unfortunately appears to allow for the hunting of wild deer, we don't accept arguments that it allows for the hunting of tame deer which are bred in captivity.'" (from "Gardai urged to probe case of deer hunt deaths", a Sunday Tribune article by Suzanne Breen, 27th November 2005).
"My love of nature photography, believe it or not, came from my love of hunting, initially with my father. Then as I got older, I got into wildfowling. I soon lost interest and found I wanted more from the beauty of nature and did not want to destroy it." (Photographer John Carey whose images feature in the new "Ireland's Mammals" book by Juanita Browne).
"Phoenix Park...once had a population of hares, but since they went extinct about half a century ago none have turned up to replace them; those on Bull Island in Dublin Bay have been added to by releases several times in the past decade." (Michael Viney, Irish Times 2005)
"Game Warning: As in previous years, the area from Callan to Coolagh, Kilmoganny to Rogerstown, Caherleske to Rathcubin, Mallardstown is preserved against foxhunting and trespass. Any dogs found exciting or terrorising livestock will be shot as per our licence. The full list of the 37 landowners is with the IFA and the hunt. Gardai notified. Signed the Committee." (Notice in the classified section of the Kilkenny Voice newspaper, 15th November 2005).
A new book by former Wild Ireland editor, Juanita Browne, is aiming to increase awareness of Irish mammals and encourage "a lifelong interest in our wild animals and environment".
"Ireland's Mammals" (ISBN 0-9550594-0-2, Hardback, 25 Euro) includes profiles of all the common land mammals (as well as cetaceans observed in Irish waters) and is complemented with over 120 photographs and illustrations.
Provided are details about the life of the mammals - where they live, what they eat, when they breed and how they adapt for particular lifestyles.
"I hope this book causes the reader to reassess their thoughts about the Irish countryside and its wild inhabitants - that it might encourage us to see Ireland as a living landscape, with many interesting and charismatic characters," the author commented.
The Autumn-Winter edition of Animal Voice magazine featuring 44 pages of campaign news and updates is now available. If you are not an existing ICABS subscriber, please consider subscribing now to ensure that you receive a copy of the magazine. If you require additional copies to give to friends, please let us know and we will send them to you. The magazine is also available to download from the ICABS website.
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