Animal Voice - March 2006
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
In This Issue:
01. Pressure mounts for hares as beagling licence issued
(Please respond to our Urgent Action Item below)
ICABS was alarmed to learn that despite widespread concern about the status of the Irish Hare population, a licence has just been issued which allows beagling clubs to hunt hares during March.
The licence was granted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service at the end of February to the Irish Masters of Beagles Association. It allows 20 hunts to chase and kill hares in Counties Clare, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Tipperary, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.
ICABS understands that no licence is required by hunts to target hares during the open season but if they want to extend their blood sport period past the end of February, a licence must be sought.
This latest licence, issued under sections 9 and 26(2) of the Wildlife Act 1976 (amended), allows the hunters to operate between the 1st and 31st of March, 2006.
What makes this facilitation of hare hunting even more disturbing is that it comes at a time when concern about the Irish Hare species is prevalent. For example,
Due to concerns about the status of hares in Northern Ireland, hunting of the species is currently prohibited and it is hoped legislation will be introduced to secure permanent protection. A national hare population survey is currently underway in the Republic to establish the distribution of the hares but the project is not due to be completed until June 2007.
With this in mind, ICABS finds it entirely inappropriate for the National Parks and Wildlife Service to give permission to any group to hunt or capture hares. We have appealed to them to withdraw the beagling licence and to refuse future applications from hunts and coursing clubs. We will also be renewing our appeal to Minister Dick Roche to amend the Wildlife Act to give hares full protection.
Please write to the NPWS and to the Minister for the Environment to express your concerns about the continued persecution of the hare species. Remind them that the hare is considered to be a species in decline and that it should be afforded full protection. Ask for the beagling licence to be revoked and for no further licences to be issued to hunts or coursing clubs.
Minister Dick Roche
Note: More details about the blood sport of beagling, including the text of the granted licence and the names of the hunts involved, are available to view on the ICABS website. Simply click on Latest News.
ICABS has again called on the Gardai to act to keep hunts off public roads. This latest call comes following an incident involving an ambulance being forced to slow down during a deer hunt. It's the second recorded instance of ambulances being affected by hunt-related traffic in County Meath.
We have forwarded photographs to Garda HQ and pointed out that the ambulance's lights were flashing as it slowed down to make its way through.
ICABS finds it very disturbing that emergency vehicles are being delayed during hunt meetings and we dread to think what the implications are for patient care. We have urged the Health Service Executive to join us in complaining to the Gardai.
Motorists or pedestrians who experience inconvenience, delays or danger due to hunts are urged to promptly report it the Gardai. The phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland can be found at www.garda.ie.
Ryanair's in-flight magazine will feature no further references to bullfighting, ICABS has been assured.
Speaking from Austria, the magazine's publisher was responding to a complaint about an article in the current edition which refers to Jerez, Spain as "the home of fighting bulls". Denying that bullfighting was being glorified, he stated that the article was merely acknowledging the existence of the activity.
ICABS argued that the presence of three bullfight references in the article's single paragraph could be viewed as a recommendation to visit a bullfight. It puts it into readers' minds that when they reach Jerez, one of the options is to go visit a bullring, we stated.
Agreeing that bullfighting is cruel, the publisher promised that there would be no further references to bullfighting in the Ryanair magazine. ICABS is grateful for this positive outcome.
Thanks to our campaigning efforts in recent years, all Irish-owned travel companies have stopped, or given a commitment to stop, mentioning bullfighting in their brochures and other marketing material.
Photos published in the Irish media in January and February have explicitly conveyed the cruelty of coursing. The images show hares being chased, mauled and bitten.
A selection of photos from the Irish Independent, the Irish Star, The Irish Examiner and the Irish Times are available to view on the ICABS website. Visit the "Latest News" section and click on "Coursing cruelty captured by media".
Help raise funds for the campaign against blood sports in Ireland. Download a sponsorship form (pdf, 124Kb) and register to take part in the Women's Mini Marathon this June 5th.
For full details about this, the biggest all-women's event of its kind in the world, check out the official website at: www.womensminimarathon.ie
Please Note: All participants must register for the mini marathon by completing an official entry form. Forms will be published in the Evening Herald newspaper every Thursday and Saturday from Thursday 2nd March 2006. The number of entries will be strictly limited, so intending participants are asked to send their entry in as soon as possible.
"Sadly, this past year, I have hardly seen any hares here; none since June 2005. We used to see them quite frequently." (A County Dublin resident in a letter to ICABS, January 2006)
"I must apologise on behalf of most decent English people for the hare coursers from England coming over to your country to engage in their bloodlust. They are not representative of the British people, never have been and never will be. They are a very small minority and have no place in our society as I'm sure in yours. Morons would not be too strong a word to describe them." (From an email to ICABS written by a supporter in England, February 2006).
"I think you should try to come to some arrangement with the Irish Coursing Club or whoever and stop annoying coursers." (From an email to ICABS from a disgruntled coursing supporter, February 2006).
"'The recent incident of a red deer fleeing through Garristown may have generated some interest and excitement in the area, but to those of us who campaign for an end to this hunt, it is a cause for concern,' said Aideen Yourell, spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. She added that the National Council Against Blood Sports contended the Ward hunt was in fact illegal, as it was in contravention of the 1911 Protection of Animals Act. 'Yet, controversially, it is licensed under the Wildlife Act, despite the fact that these deer are clearly not wild animals,' she said." (From "Blood Sports body slams deer chase", an article published on the front page of the Fingal Independent, dated January 31st 2006)
"The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has some birdshot lodged in his heart and he had a 'minor heart attack,' a hospital official said Tuesday...He said there was an irregularity in the heartbeat caused by a birdshot pellet, and doctors performed a cardiac catheterization...Whittington, a prominent Republican attorney from Austin, was accidentally sprayed with shotgun pellets when Cheney was aiming for a quail Saturday." (Associated Press, February 14th, 2006)
"Nature is harsh enough on the animals; they do not need the added burden of what we put them through. And the Scripture makes it clear that God loves His animal kingdom and that He is displeased with our treatment of them. Some heavy-minded interpreters of the Bible claim that the sovereignty we were granted over the animals means that we can do whatever we please with them because they were provided specifically for our usage and that they have no souls. This is a heartless and soulless misinterpretation of the holy written Word rendered by those with a chauvinistic frame of mind. Often in these same people are found gross concealed sins that have led to the distortion of God's nature as He expressed it to us in creation." (From "Until We Meet Again - God's Eternal Plan for His Animals" by Asevimoru. Published by Montford Regis, Inc, New York. ISBN: 0-9753980-0-8)
"Meanwhile, a bitch owned by former Republic of Ireland football international, Niall Quinn, won her first round of the Oaks at noon. Quinn, who has north Tipperary roots, and also co-owns The Local bar in Clonmel, said: 'I love coming here.' Relaxing with friends in the stands, He said of Chelsea Girl: 'She's a bit young but it's not easy to win a round at Clonmel so I'm very happy with that.'" (Irish Independent, 31 Jan 2006. An accompanying photo showed Niall Quinn's dog and another mauling a hare during the coursing meet.)
The following article by Antonia Leslie appeared in the Sunday Independent of 01 January 2006. It provides a graphic insight into the type of people who go hunting and the tremendous suffering they cause to animals...
"Why are people who hunt all arse and no brain?" my wise old stepfather once remarked. I take great umbrage with the Anglo-Irish who use terms like 'tradition' as an excuse to hunt. The only tradition they know or understand is that of a cliquey, show-off snobbery.
How or why would any one with a half a heart or a tenth of a brain cell go hunting in this day and age? In fairness, though, it's not just the toffs of Thelwellian caricature who hunt through stupidity. There are genuine farming folk who hunt because they feel it is part of the cycle of life. They have a sort of hardened compassion towards animals, as their livelihood is dependent on the rearing and the slaughtering of animals.
Recently though, with our country's tremendous economical growth, has come a rather unfortunate side effect. This is the latest addition to the hunting set - the Ghastly Noveau Chasseur.
The GNC is a person with new money who has only recently taken up hunting. He does this in desperate hope that the cliquey old Anglos will invite them to their dinner parties. It's bad enough that the landed gentry have always hunted. It's worse for a person who has not been brainwashed into whole hunting culture from early childhood to take it up in middle-age just because he has made a bit of money. Do people think that if you hunt, you've made it on the barometer of posh?
Hunting became a sport of the rich because of what it symbolised. To be able to hunt for sport and not need to eat that which you've killed because you had so much abundant wealth and food was a sort of 'up yours' to the poor.
Nowadays it's still a wealthy man's pursuit and a symbol of who's who in the Anglo-Irish and Anglo-Wannabe scene. No more D4 or Foxrock annual Boxing Day Pashmina cull for you. You ditch the beemer for a Range Rover, forgo the Ice Bar and drink in the Waterloo and naturally you go to the Louth Hunt Ball.
I'm not some naive city dweller who doesn't understand the country or the countryside's supposed traditions. I grew up a part of it all in an Anglo-Irish family who had all the credentials to which the Noveau Chasseur aspires. My aunt was joint master of the Galway Blazers, other members of my family hunted in England as well as here. I grew up on horseback.
I was taken on my first hunt at the age of six. I fell off at every fence yet loved the amazing break-neck speed of riding over hedges, ditches, walls, anything. The adrenalin rush, the thrill of galloping so fast and being part of in a big pack is electrifying. I never thought of the animal being chased. It never occurred to me to envisage the fox meeting such a horrendous death.
When I questioned my Dad about such unfortunate eventualities, he'd say, "Sure we never catch any thing any way. Foxes get into hen coops and kill every hen in sight, we're doing the farmer a favour!" All the usual drivel that a seasoned hunter is thought to churn out. Back some time in 1789 this might have been the case, but this is 2006.
Then when I was a little girl I saw a vixen run into her lair. The terriers were sent down to drag her out. They pulled out her cubs instead - in pieces. Their bodies were torn in half, the upper half of one still conscious and squealing. One of the hunters had to stamp on it a good few times before it was put out of its misery. The vixen came back up to defend her cubs and the hounds tore her to pieces as well. All this was after a two-hour chase. The poor vixen had been run, literally, into the ground. Her death was not quick either.
I was blooded on my second hunt. I couldn't speak for a week. I just went home and lay down with the dogs, cuddled them and wept. The next year there was a hunt on our own estate, the Fermanagh Harries were invited over. Unfortunately there are more deer than foxes on our land, and an elderly stag was hounded into the river, his side torn out before the hounds were called off. This beautiful animal lay there, half in the water, half on the bank, his whole body convulsing in pain, his heart still pounding, his entrails on the grass beside him.
The hunt's master had to ride off to the village where his car was parked to get a gun. This left the stag lying like this for 40 minutes before being dispatched from his misery. I remember even my father could not justify such cruelty in the pursuit of fun. He and I never hunted again. The estate was proclaimed a wildlife sanctuary, and I'm glad to say has not been a fox hunt over that land since that day.
Hunting is an affliction, not a tradition. Anyone who hunts is sad. And anyone who takes up hunting later on in life for social acceptability is even sadder. To the Ghastly Noveau Chasseur, I say, is there nothing you will stop at to get over your guilt of being new money? If it's inclusion you want, can you not join a golf club or is that too middle-class to your new Anglo friends?
Try having a car boot sale or turn up on the doorstep of some well-known Anglo and tell them you're writing a book about their house and their family. Anglos love that sort of thing. You'll be invited to stay for weeks, never mind to the next dinner party. You'll be well in then.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports congratulates the National Parks & Wildlife Service on a successful operation involving a raid on the 10-acre estate of Spaniard, Juan Zapata, near the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
Wildlife rangers seized dozens of wild birds - illegally and cruelly trapped in his own garden - together with nets. Zapata is the son-in-law of well known and wealthy businessman, Michael O'Reilly, who owns Merlin Motors.
Zapata appeared before the district court last week, pleaded guilty to the offence, and was ordered to pay 800 Euro to the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
According to the NPWS, this instance of trapping is only the tip of the iceberg and they have set up a special unit to crack down on the illegal trapping and trading of wild birds. Irish birds of prey, such as young peregrine falcons, can sell for up to 15,000 Euro each in the Middle East. It is believed that there is a serious level of trapping of wild birds throughout the country, involving all sorts of illegal or unapproved cages, nets and traps. Following a number of raids, more cases are pending before the courts.
ICABS calls on Environment Minister, Dick Roche, to spare no expense in resources and manpower needed to tackle this most heinous of wildlife crimes - the trapping of vulnerable, defenceless birds.
For more details, please read the following Sunday Times article.
No escaping justice for songbird trapper
The Spanish son-in-law of Michael O'Reilly, head of one of Ireland's wealthiest business dynasties, has been fined 800 Euro by a Dublin court after dozens of trapped Irish songbirds were found in cages at his estate near Dublin's Phoenix Park.
Juan Zapata was in district court last week following a dawn raid by wildlife rangers at Ashtown Lodge, his 10-acre estate. During the swoop, gardai and officials found scores of trapped wild birds, including redpolls, linnets and finches.
Zapata was represented in court by Sarah O'Reilly, his wife, who is the daughter of Michael O'Reilly, the used-car dealer who owns Merlin Motors. O'Reilly, who said her husband's English was "insufficient" to present himself in court, insisted "there was no monetary gain for Juan" from trapping the birds. At no stage had her husband sold the endangered species. Zapata had previously held a licence to trap birds in his native Spain, she said, and he didn't know it was illegal in Ireland.
Zapata was targeted by wildlife officials last year following complaints to the Dublin Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) about birds being trapped at Ashtown. Following an undercover investigation, officers and gardai obtained a warrant to search Ashtown Lodge last summer.
Rangers, some clad in ski masks and protective clothing, scaled the walls of the O'Reilly estate at 7am on June 8. They found Zapata, wrapped in a dressing gown, "furtively and hurriedly" gathering up an illegal 35m-clap net that was set up in the garden to trap birds. The ground was baited with bird feed and Zapata admitted to a ranger that he was trapping birds.
Officers also found dozens of wild birds, including canaries, goldfinches, bullfinches, greenfinches and chaffinches, trapped in cages, enmeshed in nets and housed in an aviary and conservatory. Rangers freed the disorientated birds, some of whom were beating themselves against the bars of wire cages.
Other birds had been separated from their young and were unable to feed them. They had string harnesses fitted around their wings, and others were tied or glued to cages.
One ranger testified: "Fitted to the body harnesses were swivel-ring attachments, which hung from the birds' abdomens, for connection to a leash or line for use as a decoy attracting in more wild birds for trapping."
"It was a significant operation," said Jim Moore, an inspector with the wildlife service who is co-ordinating a national crackdown on the trapping and trading of wild birds in Ireland.
"Zapata had an extensive operation, but he is not alone. There is a serious amount of trapping in Ireland involving all sorts of illegal or unapproved cages, nets and traps. In recent months we have seized mist nets, clap nets, cages and even glue traps. As a result, we now have a number of cases pending in the courts."
After the raid, wildlife officials secured an order to release the birds. They were brought to the open countryside and released. Many were severely disorientated, flying into bushes and other obstructions before they flew away.
A district judge last week fined Zapata 800 Euro, which is to be given to the DSPCA, having heard that 12 wooden cages and other items had been seized.
Prosecutions against Irish-based bird dealers are uncommon. Zapata, who formerly ran the Royal Tara Stud - Ireland's largest parrot breeding facility - is only the second twitcher to be prosecuted in recent years. Last year Richard O'Brien, a pet shop owner from Portlaoise, was fined 1,000 Euro for possessing native wild finches and for other breaches of the Wildlife Act.
A special unit has been established by the National Parks and Wildlife service to crack down on the illegal trapping and trading of wild birds. The unit, led by Moore, is monitoring the activities of individual traders and criminal gangs.
Irish birds of prey, such as young peregrine falcons, can sell for up to 15,000 Euro each in the Middle East.
"The trade in wild birds is highly lucrative, second only to drug dealing," said Robert Kenny of the DSPCA. "Some trapped-bird operations are akin to puppy farming."
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has established a national unit dealing with illegal bird trapping. Their recent successful prosecution of a bird trapper in Dublin represents, they say, only the tip of the iceberg.
Can you help catch those involved in the trapping and sale of wild birds? If you have information, no matter how trivial you may think it is, the NPWS wants to hear from you.
Bird trappers and traders sometimes operate out of pet shops and garden centres or in and around industrial estates. Private, garden aviaries housing wild birds may also be an indication of illegal activities.
If you have information or suspicions about illegal bird trapping and/or trading, please contact the NPWS national unit now.
Mr Jim Moore
Tel: 045-520622 or 087-2646430
The Animal Rights Action Network has highlighted how the Arts Council has allocated 130,000 Euro of funding to several circuses in Ireland. The group is calling for an end to grants for circuses which use animals.
Please email the Arts Council to express your opposition to the funding of circuses which use animals.
Arts Policy Consultant Specialist
An expose of live lure coursing on ABC News has left American viewers shocked and demanding a ban on the activity. (The report can be viewed online from the ABC website)
The coursing, taking place in California, involves greyhounds being released into a field to kill wild jackrabbits.
Local animal welfare group, The Marin Humane Society, explains that the dogs are "specifically trained and rewarded for tearing the rabbits apart" and that the unfortunate creatures "die a terrifying, painful death - purely for entertainment".
As part of the ABC News investigation, reporter Dan Noyes brought the coursing to the attention of California Assemblywoman Loni Hancock who subsequently published a bill which aims to ban live lure coursing in the state.
Contact Assemblywoman Hancock to voice your support for her efforts to get coursing banned in California.
Assemblywoman Loni Hancock
Did you know that it remains permissible under the Wildlife Act for a hunter to use a shotgun to injure a hare? Section 41 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000 states that "it shall be an offence for a person to hunt or injure in the course of hunting with a shotgun a protected wild animal OTHER THAN A HARE otherwise than under and in accordance with a licence granted in that behalf by the Minister."
Show you care about the animals abused and killed for their fur in China. Please sign Heather Mills McCartney's petition. More details about the campaign against this appalling trade can be found on her website.
A peaceful protest against the continued slaughtering of seals in Canada is due to take place this month outside the Canadian Embassy in Dublin. Hundreds of thousands of the animals are clubbed, shot or hooked to death in what is said to be the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world.
Organised by the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN), the protest will take place between 12 noon and 2 pm on Thursday, 23 March 2006 outside the Canadian Embassy, 65 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. For more information, contact ARAN on 087-6275579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A map showing the location of the embassy can be viewed on the (Canada Ireland website).
ICABS has this week renewed its call on the Canadian authorities to act to stop the country's internationally condemned slaughter.
Among the high-profile supporters of campaigns to save the seals are Kim Bassinger, Martin Sheen, Juliette Binoche, Brigitte Bardot, Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyvor/StarGate), the Dalai Lama, Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney.
ICABS ACTION ITEM
If you are unable to attend the ARAN protest in Dublin, please register your opposition to the seal slaughter by contacting the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland and the new Canadian Prime Minister. Thank you.
Canadian Ambassador to Ireland
Tel: (01) 417 4136
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Fax: (001) 613-941-6900
I am writing to register my opposition to the continued slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals in Canada. This brutal assault on the seal population is a terrible reflection on your country - the unfortunate animals are mercilessly shot, clubbed over the head or hooked to death. I implore you to intervene to bring this barbarism to an end.
Thank you. I look forward to your positive reply.
Seal Slaughter: More information
To learn more about the brutality of Canada's seal slaughter and to view a selection of images, visit the "Stop The Seal Hunt" website at www.stopthesealhunt.com.
Please sign the Humane Society of the United States petition.
Barbarity of hare coursing
What could possibly have prompted you to dedicate page three of Tuesday's edition (January 31) to a half page photo of three Neanderthals, from my native Scotland, wearing dead animals on their heads and rejoicing in the barbarity of hare coursing?
Your insensitivity was compounded by your decision to devote the rest of the page to a panegyric on this alleged sport.
Foot-hunting puts me off visiting Ireland
Your feature on foot-hunting and the description of this activity as being the hidden face of Ireland (Irish Examiner Arena, February 22) has put me off visiting your country.
As for describing hounds' cries as music, well, to my musician's ear it is the sound of terror and death as the quarry screams in agony.
In Britain we now have a hunt ban that took 80 years to get through the bureaucracy of the House of Lords and the ruling land-owning classes. It doesn't go far enough, but we animal rights campaigners will continue to fight against the persecution of innocent animals.
As for quoting Grey's Elegy about the ploughman leaving the world to darkness, how apt because that perfectly describes the condition of these heartless people who have no empathy with other living creatures
It seems a ban on hare coursing is not even being considered in your country and it breaks my heart to think the human race - as animal rights campaigner Annette Crosby, the actress, recently said - is "the nastiest species that ever evolved."
Caveman antics at the coursing
The caveman mentality was much in evidence at the national finals of hare coursing in Clonmel, judging from the picture of men in grotesque animal skin head-gear published in a national newspaper. This appeared alongside a disturbing image of two greyhounds in the process of mauling an unfortunate hare that had been pinned down.
The pictures were accompanied by an upbeat account of this barbaric, outdated activity. We were told that the finals were a "showpiece event" which generated 16 million Euro for the local economy" and that Arts, Sports and Tourism Minister John O'Donoghue is a fan and would be attending at some stage.
It was stated that there would be 180 hares used, and that they would be returned to the wild. But what of the unfortunate hare pinned down in the photograph? What was its fate?
Since the introduction of muzzling, not a coursing season goes by without hares being injured and dying from maulings.
These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg and there is much more cruelty lurking behind the scenes of coursing. Coursing has no place in a so-called civilised and modern country and the only answer is for Environment Minister Dick Roche to follow the example of the UK and ban this horror for once and all.
Hunts must not be free to block roads
"When a hunt blocks a road, it is all too easy to annoy passing motorists who may be under pressure of work...don't antagonise the motorists, they aren't having the fun that we are."
This is the crass advice offered by an Irish Masters of Foxhunting Association spokesperson to the blood sport enthusiasts who routinely clog up roads around the country.
It's advice which is clearly being ignored.
Motorists passing through hunt country continue to suffer delays as the moving road block of hunters, horses and hounds lead to lengthy tailbacks.
Road users also find themselves being exposed to danger.
Among the many incidents documented by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports are hunters in off-road vehicles chasing a panting deer into oncoming traffic; a school bus being forced to a standstill while hunt supporters cleared their haphazardly abandoned vehicles, and three car passengers injured after cows were chased on to a main road by a pack of foxhounds.
The hunt spokesperson's remark that others "aren't having the fun that we are" is particularly jarring when it is taken into account that emergency vehicles are also being caught up in the chaos.
During the current hunting season, yet another ambulance was forced to slow down due to hunt-related congestion. With its lights flashing, it crawled along past gaping hunters on horses and illegally parked horse-boxes. One dreads to consider the implications for the patient waiting to reach a hospital.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on the authorities to act to keep hunts off public roads.
Motorists or pedestrians who experience inconvenience, delays or danger due to hunts are urged to promptly report it to police.
So long as road safety and traffic flow are priorities, hunts must be prevented from claiming roads as part of their playgrounds.
How long must we carry on with this gratuitous abuse of our animals?
The latest doping-related scandal to hit the greyhound industry has again focused attention on the stomach-churning and gratuitous abuse of animals for which this industry is notorious.
The Greyhound Board frowns upon illicit use of drugs because it sees the practice as unsporting and detrimental to its image.
But a far greater concern to animal welfare groups and campaigners is the suffering this practice can cause to greyhounds.
Erythropoietin or EPO, for example, can inflict permanent heart damage on a dog, causing it to die in agony.
The latest revelations concerning Bord na gCon's handling of the doping controversy hit the headlines just days before the so-called National Coursing Meeting got underway.
Hares are baited and terrorised by dogs in front of a cheering mob at this annual three-day festival of cruelty.
While doping is at least technically prohibited, hare coursing commands the enthusiastic and unanimous backing of the Greyhound Board.
Detailed reports on the sick and indefensible abuse of wildlife by coursing clubs have been presented to Bord na gCon. It has known for decades about such abuse.
I would suggest that the 12.84m Euro that the Government doled out to the greyhound industry in 2004 might have been better spent on our ailing health service and the plight of the homeless.
And perhaps a little of it could have gone to animal welfare groups.
Sooner or later, Bord na gCon will have to face the truth - that illicit doping, blooding, ill-treatment of dogs, and hare coursing have become the best-known and most familiar features of this utterly corrupt industry.
Help wildlife living in zoo
What pitiful scenes your photographer, Niall Carson, recently captured at Dublin Zoo? (Irish Independent, 31 December 2005). One of his images showed a group of forlorn macaques huddling together, and the other a bewildered and bedraggled bird.
Their confinement in the Phoenix Park's anachronistic sideshow was positively presented in the caption with the suggestion that they have now found a "safe home".
It may be true that these endangered species can live free from the threat posed by hunters and developers but having to do so in a zoo is a rather bleak consolation.
Instead of visiting a zoo, people keen to help these creatures should consider donating to the animal protection societies which are working to save habitats, stop hunting and promote greater respect for wildlife.
Greater statutory protection needed for the Irish hare
Further to the letter on hare coursing from Club Member (Writeback, February 8), I would point out that while coursing deserves to be banned on welfare grounds alone, I believe that the conservation case is equally damning.
Trained dogs are not a natural predator of the hare. When faced with a fox in the wild, for example, the hare sits up to signal that the would-be predator has lost the element of surprise. The sensible fox does not waste its energy chasing a hare that will outrun it.
When the hare sits up in the coursing paddock, coursers interpret this behaviour as "waiting for the dogs" and "enjoying the chase". This is complete nonsense, as the unfortunate hare does not expect to be chased.
A hare running in blind panic in an enclosed paddock as the dogs continue their pursuit is nothing remotely like natural behaviour.
Hares are caught and confined for several weeks in advance of the coursing event. During this time they are kept in an unnatural and inadequate environment.
Capture, handling and confinement all contribute to an often-fatal condition called stress myopathy. In Wexford in 2003, when 40 of the 83 hares caught for coursing died in captivity, the reporting veterinary officer cited stress as the underlying cause.
With hindsight we may now recognise that modern farming practices have had an environmental cost, but there is a genuine concern within our rural community about the future of the Irish hare.
The majority of people engaged in farming or field sports report a general absence of hares in areas where they once thrived. The most recent 2005 hare survey actually showed a decline in hare numbers.
It will take at least a decade, and many more surveys, before we have any idea whether or not the Irish hare will meet or cheat extinction.
The contribution that coursing clubs make to Irish hare conservation has been, at best, overstated. There is no evidence that predator control (fox culling) helps hares.
Indeed, there is emerging evidence that culling of foxes actually causes fox breeding rates to increase and is likely to result in higher predation levels needed to feed greater numbers of hungry cubs.
The role of coursing clubs in research by providing DNA samples is contentious. Researchers have found evidence of transfer of genes between populations of Irish hares. However, these same clubs have been responsible for translocating hares over a period of time, significantly affecting the value of the data and confusing our picture of this mammal's population dynamics.
Hares are just as scarce in areas managed by coursing clubs, which is clearly indicated by the difficulty these clubs have finding hares to course. In 2002 the Dungannon and District Coursing Club caught only around 10 hares over two counties.
The Irish hare population is fragmented and susceptible to local extinction. Hares have been absent from many areas for several years. Coursing targets and depletes local populations, indiscriminately catching pregnant and nursing females, leaving leverets to die.
The truth is that the Irish hare is a vulnerable species with an uncertain future and little protection in law. Greater statutory protection for the Irish hare will underpin a wider conservation strategy and make a significant contribution to the long-term recovery of the Irish hare. It will be welcomed by everyone with a genuine interest in the future of this unique animal.
The following account was supplied to ICABS by a Dublin resident who witnessed a hare being ripped apart by a pack of harrier hunt hounds during last hunting season.
"Driving up a country road near a village in North County Dublin, a 4-wheel-drive was stopped in front of me with two men standing alongside it. I pulled in thinking perhaps that there was some accident up ahead. Just then, a hare came running down the road. I didn't realise what was happening for a moment until a pack of hounds appeared from round the corner. I got out of the car to try and do something but the hounds had caught up with the hare and totally demolished it.
"All that was left was a tiny piece of fur blowing in the breeze.
"The two men were carrying clubs or thick sticks. I can only assume they were employees of the hunt. I ranted at them about the cruelty but they, of course, ignored me. I think they must have contact with mobile phone with the hunters and were sent to stop the hare continuing down the road. I think they were probably trying to beat the hare into a ditch. The brutality of it was horrid to see and haunted me for weeks.
"Driving away, I saw the first of the horses and riders arriving on the scene. I lowered the window and asked one of the hunters if he was proud of his morning's work. He replied: 'Oh yes, we are, Madam.'"
ICABS will be bringing this to the attention of Minister Dick Roche.
He'd only come to look for food -
Bloated in musty jackets red -
Galloping at speed against the wind,
In terror with no place to hide
Gasping for every breath -
The savage hounds are closing in -
His suffering has reached a point
The hounds tear at the flesh
Back to the country house
Whilst at the lair the vixen waits -
Barbara J Laing 2006
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action being taken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to end the sale of unlawful glue traps from retail outlets here.
For written answer on Wednesday, 8th March, 2006.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): Sale or possession of glue traps, other than in accordance with a licence issued by my Department, is prohibited under the Wildlife Act 1976 (Approved Traps, Snares and Nets) Regulations 2003. No licences are currently in force to permit the sale or possession of such traps.
My Department has, over the last 18 months, been involved in two court cases involving the unlawful possession of rodent glue traps. Recently a substantial quantity of mouse glue was seized at Dublin Port and a prosecution is being prepared. My Department is in contact with a major importer and distributor of these traps with a view to arranging the recall and destruction of all such traps.
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of hares captured from the wild for the 2005-2006 coursing season which had previously been caught, marked and released by coursing clubs.
For written answer on Wednesday, 8th March, 2006.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): The information sought is not available in my Department.
Please visit your local hardware stores, discount shops and pet supplies outlets to see if glue traps are being sold. If you spot the traps on sale, immediately notify the NPWS conservation ranger for your area. Please get in touch with us if you require the relevant name and contact details.
About glue traps: 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.
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