Animal Voice - June 2006
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
In This Issue:
01. "Financial support for coursing has ceased": Red Mills
ICABS is delighted to report that the Connolly's Red Mills company has confirmed that its support for coursing events has now ceased.
The good news came following an appeal from ICABS in which we urged the company to disassociate from the blood sport.
"We understand that the Red Mills company has been a sponsor of several coursing events over the years, most recently at the Tipperary and District coursing meeting in February 2006," we stated. "We hope that you can show compassion for one of Ireland's favourite wild mammals and stop helping to keep this blood sport alive by providing financial support."
A company spokesperson responded: "Connolly's Red Mills has very strict policies against associating our brand with such sports and indeed invasive procedures on animals. On the contrary our whole emphasis as a company is the proper welfare of animals, through providing excellent nutrition. In this regard we also support many animal welfare organisations in their activities."
"It was never our intention to find ourselves directly or indirectly associated with such sports and I can confirm that all financial support for coursing events has ceased," he added. "We are examining all our marketing structures in order to ensure that the allocation of funds are not made available directly or within the limits of our control - indirectly, to such sports."
ICABS has thanked the company for this positive response.
The Green Party's Sport and Tourism spokesperson has called for a complete ban on hare coursing. Paul Gogarty, the party's TD for Dublin Mid-West, said: "The greyhound industry is covered in a cloud of cruelty and is in urgent need of reform."
A Green Party statement detailing Mr Gogarty's opposition to coursing appears below.
Gogarty calls for complete ban on hare coursing
Green Party spokesperson on Arts, Sport and Tourism Paul Gogarty TD has called for a ban on all hare coursing, saying that the greyhound industry is covered in a cloud of cruelty and is in urgent need of reform. According to Deputy Gogarty, drag coursing, which involves the use of a mechanical bait, could and should replace the use of live hares.
Speaking in relation to a Dail debate on Greyhound Doping today, the Green Party spokesperson said: "Hare coursing involves cruelty to both hares and dogs. This has to stop. I am not anti-greyhound racing, but an industry that knowingly engages in animal cruelty for profit is not one that should be allowed operate in such a fashion.
"Statistics show that 75 per cent of people living in the countryside and 90 per cent of city dwellers oppose hare coursing. So why are our legislators ignoring this fact? Perhaps this is because many of our elites own greyhounds, including politicians from several parties. During today's debate a considerable number of contributors admitted to owning a greyhound; making it hard for many to take a balanced view of the industry.
"Do these parliamentary colleagues condone the stress caused to hares that are captured for up to six weeks? Do they condone the deaths from stress and maulings that still occur, even with muzzles on the greyhounds? What about the illegal bloodings that still go on and the putting down of greyhounds that have outlived their economic usefulness? Is there not an element of hypocrisy involved?"
Deputy Gogarty also questioned the continuation of the current high levels of funding for the dog and horse racing industries.
"This is an industry that needs to change. It can change and I would support a cruelty-free greyhound racing sector. It provides a social outlet for people in communities across the country, however; it does not make people fitter and healthier from a physical or spiritual point of view. This is why I am appalled that 37 per cent of all Government funding on Sport goes to the horse and greyhound racing industry.
"It is a sickening statistic considering there are clubs around the country crying out for funding - clubs that involve people in active participation in sport. It is these clubs that should be the priorities for Government; not profitable industries that have more to do with gambling than exercise," concluded Deputy Gogarty.
Coursing is a medieval and cruel practice which should be banned outright. An industry based on cruelty and exploitation should not be allowed to continue as it is. Just some of the views about coursing expressed in the Dail this month.
Speaking on 8th June during a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006, a number of TDs made references to the blood sport.
ICABS Vice-president, Tony Gregory, stated that the "Irish Coursing Club is a law unto itself and is not fit to regulate anything involving animal welfare". Dublin North Central TD, Finian McGrath, described coursing as the downside of the greyhound industry while Paul Nicholas Gogarty of the Green Party highlighted how, despite the muzzling of greyhounds, hares continue to die. He also spoke about the majority opposition to hare coursing in Ireland and the humane alternative of drag coursing.
Those who spoke favourably about the blood sport were Sean Power, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children and Tipperary South TD, Seamus Healy. Meanwhile, Fine Gael's Tom Hayes claimed that the reason coursing gets bad press is because of "a lack of knowledge".
Please take the time to read the comments by clicking on the following link: "Coursing views voiced during Dail debate". Thank you.
Please contact Environment Minister, Dick Roche, and demand an end to coursing in Ireland. Tell the Minister that hares should be allowed to live free from the cruelty of coursing. Please also contact your local TDs/Senators and urge them to work for an end to coursing and all blood sports.
Minister Dick Roche
Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403. Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640
Write to your TD at:
Write to your Senator at:
For the names of current TDs and Senators, please visit the Irish Government Website at www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist.
An official from the Ballinagar Coursing Club has been fined 300 Euro after being convicted of obstructing a NPWS wildlife ranger. The offence took place following a coursing meet in October 2004. The Offaly club has now lost its licence.
As reported on RTE's Six One News, Judge Thomas Fitzpatrick - speaking at Tullamore District Court - said that coursing was a rather controversial "sport" that a lot of people objected to. But, he said that this case had absolutely nothing to do with cruelty.
For full details, please view the RTE News report by clicking on the following link:
Offaly coursing club loses licence
To view a newspaper report from The Star, please visit the "Latest News" section and click on "Offaly coursers lose licence".
A company which supplies cheese and meat to Ireland's major supermarket chains had an advert in a coursing booklet, ICABS has learned.
The advert for Horgan's Delicatessen Supplies Ltd appeared in the events card for this year's Clonmel coursing meeting.
According to their website, Horgan's is a supplier to Tesco, Dunnes, Superquinn, Marks & Spencer, SuperValu, Centra, Spar, Londis, Mace and Aer Lingus.
In a letter to the company's Managing Director, Michael Horgan, ICABS stated: "We wish to express our disappointment that the Horgan's company chose to support the national hare coursing finals in Clonmel this year by placing an advertisement in the event's booklet."
"We hope that you can consider giving a commitment that your company will not support hare coursing in the future," we added. "Coursing, as you may be aware, is opposed by eight in ten Irish people. Due to the cruelty, it is now illegal in England, Scotland and Wales and has been stopped in Northern Ireland."
Write to Horgan's and ask them to clarify their policy in relation to blood sports. Urge them to avoid advertising in coursing booklets in the future.
Novelist and poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, has expressed his support for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports campaign against animal cruelty.
In a recent reply to ICABS, the popular writer outlined that he was "aware that people have started travelling over to Ireland to do their killing".
"You can certainly count me as one of your supporters," he added.
ICABS is delighted to have the support of Benjamin Zephaniah for our campaign against blood sports.
Mr Zephaniah is the author of eleven books (novels and poetry), including Too Black, Too Strong, Gangsta Rap, Funky Chickens and Refugee Boy. He has also recorded several albums featuring his poetry performed over music.
In 2003, he famously rejected an OBE (Officer of the Order of British Empire) from the Queen. Quoted in The Guardian, he stated: "I get angry when I hear that word 'empire'; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised. Benjamin Zephaniah OBE - no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire."
For more information on Benjamin Zephaniah, please visit his official website at www.benjaminzephaniah.com
Please become a supporter of ICABS. Annual rates are just 15 Euro (Individual), 20 Euro (Family) and 8 Euro (Unwaged). Please contact us for the relevant form or download it directly from: www.banbloodsports.com/subsform.htm
Thank you to those who have sent in a subscription/donation in recent months.
A huge majority of Northern Ireland residents believe that foxhunting and staghunting are cruel and inhumane, according to the latest Millward Brown opinion poll. The poll also found that most people agree with the decision to refuse permission to Northern coursing clubs to capture hares for their blood sport.
Welcoming the results of the poll, the League Against Cruel Sports in Northern Ireland observed that: "There was consistency from both urban and rural respondents, exploding the myth that there is a wide gulf between the town and the countryside."
More details on the results of the opinion poll can be found on the ICABS website - click on "Latest News" and scroll down to "Northern Ireland: Majority oppose blood sports" (01 June 2006). Alternatively, click on the following links to download the survey results.
Hare Coursing Survey (pdf, 45kb)
Additional Analysis of Urban and Rural Areas (pdf, 22kb)
The Irish Farmers Association has been accused of "selling out" by inviting foxhunters to join its IFA Countryside scheme. Strongly criticising the move, Philip Lynch, chairman of Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass, remarked: "it appears that all the principles of the IFA are up for sale."
The IFA Countryside website acknowledges that "the Irish countryside is a great national resource which Irish farmers work hard to maintain and enhance" but goes on to outline how the scheme is open to those with "an interest in...Irish field sport activities".
Quoted in the Irish Independent of May 22nd, Mr Lynch stated: "It's a crying shame that our organisation [the IFA] is about to make hunters, who are nothing but vandals, members of our organisation. With IFA Countryside, they are bringing in people to the organisation who are not even farmers. I've been told they won't have voting rights but these people can still appear at our fences, wave an IFA card and say 'we're insured, we [want to] enter your property'."
He went on to emphasise that farmers trying to protect their lands and livestock from trespassing hunters are relying on the IFA to help them.
The Irish Independent article revealed that several cases are currently before the district courts involving farmers seeking compensation from hunters who allegedly damaged crops.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports views the invitation to blood sports enthusiasts to join IFA Countryside as being incompatible with the aims of the IFA which was established "to present a coherent national voice for all Irish farmers on all issues affecting their livelihoods".
Every hunting season, farmers and landowners around the country are plagued by hunts coming on to their land and posing a threat to their livelihoods. Among the complaints are damage to boundary fences, crops and pastures, the disturbance of livestock and pets, the spread of disease and abusive and threatening behaviour from hunters when told to stay off private land.
A coursing greyhound co-owned by actor and ex-footballer, Vinnie Jones, has been named as being involved in a positive drug test result, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has learned. The test result was received following his win of the J.P. McManus-sponsored Irish Cup, the so-called blue riband event of the coursing calendar.
The following brief statement about the drugs test appeared on the website of the Sporting Press (the Irish Coursing Club's newspaper):
"Following analysis of samples taken for drug testing purposes at the recent Irish Cup meeting, a positive result has been received involving the winner of the Irish Cup, Boavista. The Irish Coursing Club will be holding an enquiry into the positive result received in due course."
ICABS understands that Vinnie Jones and co-owners netted 80,000 Euro for the Irish Cup win.
Boavista, who has had a string of wins during the 2005/06 Irish hare coursing season, was recently named the coursing greyhound of the year and described as "the most consistent runner for many years and a very worthy winner of the ultimate prize in coursing".
Meanwhile, an article prominently published in the same edition of the Sporting Press, praises the greyhound's success, saying "Boavista, the double hero of the Champion Stakes and the Irish Cup, is the runaway winner of the Coursing Greyhound of the Year award."
Boavista also won the Classics Club Champion Stakes at the national finals of coursing in Clonmel, the Oaks Trial stakes at Newcastle West, the All-Age Cup at Miltown Malbay and two further competitions at New Ross.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports would like to know what drug was involved, if Boavista had been tested for the presence of drugs following his previous wins and what action Bord na gCon and the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism (who is responsible for the greyhound industry) intends to take.
The regional managers of the Pound City chain of discount stores have been told to destroy any remaining stock of glue traps. The move came following an appeal from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports.
Glue traps, unlawful under Irish law, were spotted for sale in a number of Pound City stores around the country. When we contacted the company's head office, we received a copy of an email sent to the regional managers. It stated: "It is an offence under Irish law to sell glue traps. I believe we have already withdrawn this item off sale; however, would you please check all branches and ensure they are not on sale and any stock remaining is destroyed."
Please join us now in our bid to rid Ireland of inhumane glue traps. Visit your local hardware stores, pet supply stores, discount shops, DIY shops, etc and if glue traps are on sale, please send ICABS details immediately. We will then bring it to the attention of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and urge them to take action. Thank you.
A ban on the killing of hares in Northern Ireland is to be extended to at least March 2007, ICABS is delighted to report. The North's Department of the Environment said they felt it was "appropriate to provide further protection until there is more certainty about the sustainability of the population". In stark contrast, the hare hunting season in the Republic was recently extended into the month of March thanks to a licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Commenting on the decision to protect hares from hunting and coursing activities, a spokesperson for the Belfast-based Environment Department commented: "The results of the 2005 Irish Hare Survey provided some encouraging indicators about the Irish Hare population, but showed a reduction in overall numbers from 2004. The department considers it appropriate to provide further protection until there is more certainty about the stabilisation and sustainability of the population. The department will be undertaking a further survey during 2006 in support of the work in recent years in order to determine the trends in the population."
"In December 2005, the department sought objections to the proposal to introduce further protection for the Irish Hare and the above decision was made following consideration of the objections received," the spokesperson added.
ICABS was one of the groups who voiced support for a continuation of the ban on hare hunting activities in the North. The temporary ban was initially introduced in January 2004 by the then Environment Minister, Angela Smith. The latest extension - introduced under the Game Preservation Act (NI) 1928 - will prohibit the removal of hares from the wild, the killing of hares and the trade in hares. It will remain in effect between 17 April 2006 and 31 March 2007.
ICABS congratulates the North's Environment Minister, Lord Jeff Rooker, for ensuring that the hare species remains protected from hunters and coursers.
The Irish Hare Initiative has updated its report on the impact of coursing on the hare species. To view the full text of the report, please visit the "Latest News" section and click on "The Impact of Enclosed Hare Coursing on Irish hares".
A link to the report also appears on The Irish Hare website (www.mikerendle.co.uk/irishhare/directory.html)
The Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, has evaded questions about the doping of greyhounds. The Minister, who has responsibility for the greyhound industry, told Tony Gregory, TD that his department "has no role in such matters".
The related Dail questions and answers appear below.
Question 195 - Answered on 29th March, 2006
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the increasing use of unauthorised drugs in the greyhound industry including most recently in the Irish Coursing Club's premier event, the Irish Cup; the action he intends to take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Ref No: 12448/06).
Question 196 - Answered on 29th March, 2006
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the type of unauthorised drugs being used to improve the performance of greyhounds in racing and coursing club events; and the type for which a greyhound (details supplied) recently tested positive. (Ref No: 12449/06).
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (John O'Donoghue): I propose taking questions 195 and 196 together. I would like to reiterate my strong condemnation of the use of prohibited substances and methods in any form in sport.
Under the provisions of the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, Bord na gCon is the statutory agency responsible for the promotion and development of greyhound racing in Ireland. The Act confers on Bord na gCon wide powers to regulate all aspects of greyhound racing, including integrity management and anti-doping controls.
Under Section 26 of the Act, the Irish Coursing Club is recognised as being the controlling authority for the breeding and coursing of greyhounds, subject to the provisions of the Act and of the constitution of the Club and subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon.
Responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the greyhound industry, including doping issues, lies with Bord na gCon and my Department has no role in such matters. Accordingly, the information sought by the Deputy is not available to the Department and he should, therefore address his request directly to Bord na gCon and the Irish Coursing Club.
The Deputy will be aware that on 31 January last I appointed Mr Tim Dalton, former Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, to carry out an independent assessment of issues relating to corporate governance in Bord na gCon as well as its management of positive tests for banned substances. One of the Terms of Reference of the Independent Investigation is "To consider the way in which Bord na gCon procedures dealing with doping infringements are presently carried out, to comment on the adequacy of existing procedures and to advise whether there should be any changes or modifications put into effect."
I expect to receive Mr. Dalton's report shortly.
A webcam set up by the Irish Hare Initiative is providing a rare glimpse of the group's purpose-built leveret rearing facility. Orphaned leverets are brought to the centre from all over Ireland for rearing, rehabilitation and release.
Please click on the link to view the latest images from the Hare Cam: www.mikerendle.co.uk/webcam
The Irish Hare Initiative offers the following advice to anyone who spots an apparently orphaned leveret:
"Young hares (leverets) are often left alone by their mothers, who return at night to feed them. It is normal for a leveret to be left in a hedgerow, long grass or vegetation. Their instinct is to stay still and not move, which leads people to (wrongly) believe that they are orphaned, sick or injured. Leverets like this should not be at risk unless there is immediate cause for concern or an imminent threat."
If the hare is genuinely orphaned or injured, it will require urgent specialist attention. For more information, please visit the Irish Hare Initiative website and click on "Orphans and casualties" or telephone the Hareline on 08707 442285 (Co Tyrone).
The Irish Times article below describes an horrific incident in a Dublin park which saw hares being thrown to greyhounds during what is believed to have been a blooding session. ICABS has been in touch with South Dublin County Council, urging them to install CCTV cameras in an effort to deter further criminal activity. The park in question has been described by one official as "a problem park".
Live hares thrown to greyhounds in Dublin
Gardai are investigating an animal cruelty case in which live hares have been fed to greyhounds by teenagers in a series of incidents in a housing estate and park in west Dublin.
The investigation began after a member of the public saw a group of teenagers taking two live hares from a sack and throwing them to a number of greyhounds.
The hares were killed and dismembered instantly by the dogs.
The incident took place in St Cuthbert's Park, Deansrath, Clondalkin, on the afternoon of Saturday, March 11th. Garda patrols around the park have since been increased.
Gardai believe the teenagers involved were engaging in the illegal practice of "blooding".
They believe the hares were being thrown to the dogs to be killed in order to give the greyhounds a taste for blood.
They believe the animals were then taken hunting for hares and rabbits, most likely as part of their training for greyhound racing.
After gardai received the complaint, the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) and South Dublin County Council's dog wardens became involved in the investigation.
It subsequently emerged that the incident in St Cuthbert's Park was only one in a series of similar cases.
A spokesman for the DSPCA said his organisation had learned of a number of illegal blooding cases involving live hares in the area.
He said some of these had taken place on the street in the Deansrath housing estate.
The DSPCA had received other reports of attacks taking place in the grounds of a company in the Clondalkin area.
The DSPCA has identified two houses in the Deansrath estate some of whose residents it believes have been involved in the incidents.
Members of the organisation visited the houses last week but the residents were not at home. To date they have failed to respond to calling cards.
The DSPCA is expected to visit the houses again with gardai as early as today.
Tony Gregory TD (Ind) who has raised the matter with the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said the reports of cruelty to the hares were "sickening".
He said animal welfare needed to be made more of a priority in some State agencies.
"I'd congratulate the person who reported it in the first place. But there must be more people out there who have seen things like this and they must come forward to the gardai."
In April, as the country remembered the heroes of 1916, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called on Bertie Ahern to introduce legislation outlawing live hare coursing and hunting wild animals with dogs. This, we told the Taoiseach, would be a fitting tribute to Padraic Pearse, whose ideals he much admires.
We sent Mr Ahern a copy of a letter written by Padraic Pearse's sister, Senator Margaret Pearse, to actor and founder member of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, John Cowley (who played Tom Riordan in the long running rural soap, 'The Riordans'). In her letter, written from a nursing home in 1967, Senator Pearse outlined how her brothers, Padraic and Willie, were kind to animals and would have been opposed to hare coursing.
Senator Margaret Pearse had felt so strongly about hare coursing in 1967 that she took the time and trouble, then aged 89, to write a letter to the national press, condemning the blood sport. Referring to her brothers, Padraic and Willie, she told John Cowley: "In my letter to the press, I invoked the names of my two brothers, Padraic and Willie, and I was absolutely correct in affirming that they would both have been totally opposed to the inhuman treatment meted out to the innocent little hares at the coursing matches. At all times during their lives, they were kind to dumb animals and Padraic's writings give many instances of his love for animals and birds, and I am certain that were they alive today, they would both be foremost in condemning coursing for the sadistic spectacle that it is."
In an appeal to Bertie Ahern, Aideen Yourell of ICABS stated: "Would it not now be a fitting tribute, Taoiseach, and acknowledgement of Padraic Pearse, his brother Willie and his sister, Margaret, that in this the 90th commemoration of the events of 1916 and Padraic Pearse's life and ideals, to bring an end to the cruel abuse that is live hare coursing.
"I appeal to you, Taoiseach, to bring in legislation outlawing live hare coursing and hunting wild animals with dogs. The coursers do not need to use live hares, cruelly snatched from the wild for their events. A mechanical lure can be used as a perfectly acceptable and viable alternative.
"The ending of hare coursing and hunting wild animals with dogs would be a fitting tribute to Padraic and Willie Pearse and their sister, Margaret, and, indeed, actor John Cowley who was so well loved by the Irish public."
In the Autumn/Winter 2005 edition of Animal Voice, we reported on the conviction of five men for animal cruelty at a dog fight in County Kildare. In May 2006, the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the convictions of two of the men. For more details, please read the following statement, dated 31st May 2006, which was published on the ISPCA website...
The Court of Criminal Appeal has quashed the convictions of two men convicted of cruelty to animals at a dog fight in Co Kildare in the first case of its kind in the history of the state.
Troy Jordan (aged 35), a car-dealer and horse-breeder, of Blackthorn Cottage, River Road, Allenwood South, Co Kildare, and David Deegan (aged 32), a car sales business owner, Maplewood Park, Springfield, Tallaght, Dublin, were convicted at Naas Circuit Court on July 13 last year of cruelly ill-treating two animals at a dog fight on October 31, 2003, at Brockagh, Robertstown, Naas, Co Kildare.
Jordan was jailed for 18 months for the offence and Deegan was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence by Judge Pat Mc Cartan. Jordan was freed on bail immediately after the sentence by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
The trial was told that a team of gardai and inspectors from the ISPCA had raided a Kildare farm and found two dogs in a bloody clinch in a corrugated steel pen.
The two pitbulls had lacerations to the face, ear, head, neck and forelimbs. The men were convicted under the Protection of Animals Acts of 1911 and 1965.
The men's lawyers had submitted that the trial judge erred in refusing an application to direct the jury to acquit.
Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan, presiding at the three-judge court, said that merely being present was not enough to convict a person and there must be some evidence either of common design or aiding and abetting in the offence.
He said the court had to consider whether the trial judge was right in ruling that there was enough evidence to support implied encouragement to allow the case to go to the jury.
He said that for the jury to have held that the evidence relating to each of the two men amounted to proof of the necessary implied encouragement, the jury could only have been engaging in speculating.
"All that was proved was presence. There was no evidence of gambling or fleeing from arrest. The court is of the view that the jury could not beyond reasonable doubt have come to a conclusion that there was encouragement," he said.
The judge said that the application for a direction to enter verdicts of not guilty ought to have been acceded to.
The ISPCA have expressed their disappointment with the decision
Badger snarers employed by the Department of Agriculture as part of a so-called TB Eradication Scheme have been described as "blackguards" in the Sunday Independent. Popular Country Matters columnist, Joe Kennedy, outlined how badgers "endure unknown suffering before being despatched by gunshot".
ICABS applauds Mr Kennedy for highlighting the cruelty of this discredited department scheme. His 26 March 2006 column headed "You are paying for 'voodoo' torture" appears directly below.
When the poet James Stephens heard a sudden cry of pain, it was from a rabbit in a snare. "Now I hear that cry again/But I cannot tell from where," he wrote.
Few animals are even shot for the pot nowadays. But it may surprise some people to know that snares are still in use. Even this very morning, an animal may be horrendously enmeshed in a searing wire trace, struggling futilely to escape. And these snares are being set as part of a scheme carried out by agents of the State, whose wages are being paid by your tax euros.
The animals being singled out for a horrible end are badgers. It seems they were always victims. A couple of centuries ago, another poet, John Clare, witnessed the "laughing blackguards" among dogs and men "who go out and track the badger to his den". And "kicked and torn and beaten out he lies and cackles, groans and dies".
Today, this unfortunate animal, a protected species (something of a joke, Berne Convention or no), is still suffering horrendously at the hands of man, the "blackguards" now being employed by the Department of Agriculture and Food.
This is part of a programme aimed at eradicating tuberculosis in cattle. Over the past decade, about 30,000 badgers have been exterminated in official culls. And TB has not gone away. The badgers are caught in snares placed at their setts or underground colonies and endure unknown suffering before being despatched by gunshot by "badger operatives".
From available evidence, the snared animals can spend hours trying to disentangle themselves from devices which have been officially described as "most humane". The Dail was once told that there were "no reports to give rise to concern about these devices". At this time of year, the campaign is at its height. This is the breeding season. The animals are not wandering far from home. But now lactating sows are being caught so the cubs are doomed to starvation in the setts.
Badger culling as an essential element in the bovine TB-eradication programme has been complicated and controversial. The official line is that tubercular animals will infect cattle and are a reservoir of the disease. However, badgers may have picked it up from cattle in the first instance, and cattle may continue to infect each other. There are volumes of statistics.
One expert opposed to culling said it was based "on voodoo rather than science". Badgerwatch Ireland claims there is no scientific proof of the animal's role in the spread of the disease, despite the "accepted wisdom" of a arming and veterinary lobby. Poor standards of cattle health and welfare spread sickness like lightning. The foot-and-mouth outbreak showed how disease jumped from herd to herd. Intensely farmed cattle become as susceptible to TB as did humans who were badly housed, poorly nourished and stressed in the past.
The only way forward is a radical change in animal husbandry practices allied to an anti-TB vaccine. When this comes about, it will be a great day for agriculture, and the persecuted badgers.
Not all dairy farms are anti-badger, though. One substantial breeder of disease-free prize animals was proud to show me the badger setts on his land during a farm walk. Badgers are "an enduring lot", as Kenneth Graham's character says in Wind in the Willows, "and so will ever be."
Six times more likely to be killed on Irish roads, motorcyclists are listed by the National Safety Council as being among the most vulnerable on Irish roads. A biker from Cork reveals how he nearly became the latest victim when a pack of foxhounds came spilling out on to a main road.
What follows is his account of what happened:
"Let me tell you of my recent frightening experience. I went out for a spin on 2nd January 2006 on my Yamaha FJR 1300cc motorbike in the East Cork direction, heading for Ardmore and taking the coast road to Dungarvan. I was driving along at the permitted speed of 80kph when, out of nowhere, 25ft in front of my bike, a pack of hounds came out of a farm gate and across the road into another gate. Well, I locked on my brakes and smoked up my back tyre and went into the pack of hounds, glancing off two of them. My bike came to a stop inches away from the concrete gate pillar.
"Had I been going that little bit faster, I would have suffered a very serious injury at the least, hitting the concrete pillar. Well, I was shaking with fright and my instant reaction was to look for the master of the hunt for an explanation, but unfortunately bikes don't jump ditches. After a minute composing myself, I went on my way still shaking with fright.
"The government are quite prepared to add motorcycle deaths to their list, but they never say what caused the accident, when it is a known fact, that in the majority of cases, they are caused by a third party. I hope my letter will be highlighted by you, and it may possibly save another motorcyclist from serious injury or death."
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has passed a copy of this disturbing incident on to the Cork Gardai, the National Safety Council, the Road Safety Authority, the Minister for Transport and the Road Safety Officer of Cork County Council and urged them to take immediate action to keep hunts off roads.
We are now renewing our call on motorists around the country to complain to the Gardai if hunts come on to public roads and interfere in any way with the free flow of traffic. The phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland can be found at www.garda.ie.
Please write to Garda HQ and ask for urgent action to be taken to keep hunts off public roads. If you have seen hunters, hunt horses and hounds and/or hunt followers causing inconvenience or danger to road users, please mention this in your correspondence.
Mr Noel Conroy
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on the National Parks and Wildlife Service to initiate a crackdown on the sale of illegal glue traps. The traps are prohibited in Ireland under the Wildlife Act (Approved Traps, Snares and Nets) Regulations 2003 but continue to be sold around the country.
Glue traps are designed to catch mice and rats in a sticky base where they will suffer a slow, lingering death. Rodents caught in the traps frantically struggle to free themselves by pulling out their hair or 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. Veterinary surgeons who have condemned the traps have confirmed that "there is much suffering by the entrapped animals - it is not a sudden or merciful death...Because all mammals have similar nervous systems, they are capable of experiencing the same type of pain and suffering."
In recent months, ICABS has reported numerous shops selling the traps and our efforts have led to their removal from sale in a number of retail outlets. We are now urging the NPWS to prosecute shops which persist in selling the devices.
Two cases involving the unlawful possession of glue traps have already come to court. Responding to a Dail Question from ICABS Vice-President, Tony Gregory, in March 2006, the Environment Minister stated: "My Department has, over the last 18 months, been involved in two court cases involving the unlawful possession of rodent glue traps."
Minister Dick Roche added: "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."
In a related development, Minister Roche has assured ICABS that his department will investigate the sale from the Ebay Ireland website of illegal glue traps and gin (leghold) traps and "take any possible action". ICABS appealed directly to Ebay earlier this year to stop facilitating the sale of the traps but they continue to be listed on the site.
The chairman of Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass has warned that hunts can expect the "severest legal action" if they continue to trespass on to farmland. The statement, published in the Kilkenny Voice newspaper, comes following an incident which saw a landowner desperately firing a shot into the air to keep a hunt at bay.
To read the statement, please visit the "Latest News" section and click on "Trespassing hunts will be 'dealt with severely': farmers group".
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has renewed its appeal to Westmeath County Council to scrap a falconry centre at Belvedere House and Gardens in Mullingar. The centre, consisting of cages and enclosures, sees some of nature's most magnificent birds incarcerated.
Visitors to the centre have expressed their disgust at seeing birds - the epitome of freedom - being restrained. The birds, including eagles, hawks, owls and falcons, are permitted to fly during exercise sessions and daily demonstrations but for most of the time, their movements are restricted.
Disturbing photographs taken at the centre, show the birds with a short restraint attached to their feet. At feeding time, they sit on perches eating dead day-old chicks, a by-product of factory farming. They are also vulnerable to being injured by visitors. A sign at the entrance states that items are often found in the enclosures which "could have only got there by being thrown at them". "Do not throw stones or anything else at the birds," the sign adds. "A stone can injure a bird."
Please write to Belvedere House management to express your views on the keeping of birds in captivity. Send a copy of your letter to Westmeath County Council and ask them to intervene to scrap the centre.
Tel: +353 (0)44-49060
The County Manager
Tel: +353 (0)44-32000
He's considered one of the football greats but Ronaldo's latest performance will leave many fans sorely disappointed. A television advert for a Brazilian beer sees the Real Madrid striker showing off his skills in a bullfighting arena.
The advert, filmed to promote Brahma beer, shows Ronaldo seated in the audience at a bullfight. Unable to open his bottle of beer, he enters the bullring, confronts the bull and uses the animal's horn to flip the cap off the bottle. Also shown are scenes of "Ronaldo" trying to disorientate the bull with his on-the-ball manoeuvres.
The 45 second advert can be viewed from the www.brahma.com.br website.
In a letter to AmBev/InBev, the company which produces Brahma Beer, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports appealed for the advert to be withdrawn. "The advert trivialises and glamorises what is one of the world's most cruel and barbaric blood sports," we stated. "It is very surprising that your company would want to associate its product with such a controversial activity."
We also pointed out how the bulls are slowly tortured to death during bullfights and invited the company to view our selection of video clips which show the reality of bullfighting.
Responding, InBev UK stated: "It has never been our intention to cause any offence with this advertisement...The advertisement was broadcast in Brazil as a continuation of a brand campaign for the football World Cup. The advert endeavours to focus on the unique football skills of Ronaldo, the footballing hero of Brazil, which is also home to Brahma beer. The images of the bull were superimposed over those of Ronaldo. At no point in the film is there any suggestion that the animal has been hurt or mistreated and we believe there is no indication of support for bullfighting."
Please write to AmBev and urge them to withdraw the Ronaldo/bullfighting advert. Ask them to give a commitment that no future advertising campaigns will use bullfighting themes.
Tel +55 11 2122 1200
InBev UK Ltd.
Tel +44 15 8239 1166
Contact details for other countries appear on the www.inbev.com website.
I have viewed your television advert for Brahma beer. I wish to register my objection to your use of bullfighting imagery to promote your product.
I hope that AmBev will immediately withdraw this offensive ad.
Thumbs up to John McCririck, the flamboyant and outspoken racing pundit and former Celebrity Big Brother housemate. Speaking on RTE's Tubridy Show on the eve of Cheltenham, he roundly condemned the use of the whip in horse racing and called on the people of Ireland to "put a stop to this obscenity once and for all". His appeal was greeted with loud applause from the studio audience.
McCririck said: "I am totally opposed to the use of the whip. Why is it that only in racing can we beat animals in the name of sport? It is unacceptable. Racing will go on without the whip. Hitting these beautiful animals - many of which are called cowards but autopsy shows something wrong with their hearts or whatever - hitting these animals is unacceptable.
"We're trying to stop it [Loud applause from audience]. But it is up to you at home, you in the audience, people in Ireland - the most horse loving nation on earth. It is up to you to put a stop to this obscenity once and for all. Racing can't continue with the beating of horses!"
Mr McCririck's opposition to race horse whipping has also been documented on the Channel 4 Racing website. In response to the question, "If you could change anything in racing, what would it be?", he replies: "Stop whipping animals in the name of sport."
Thank you to the TDs who have asked questions on our behalf in recent months. The following are just a selection of the Dail questions asked. For a full list, please visit our "Parliamentary Questions" page.
Question 114 - Answered on 10th May, 2006
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the National Parks and Wildlife Service has been given details by the Irish Council against Blood Sports of trading companies supplying and using glue traps; and the action taken in each case.
Ref No: 17624/06. Written reply.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): My Department is actively pursuing measures against the unlawful sale and use of glue traps, including in some instances where details were provided by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. Actions include inspections by National Parks and Wildlife staff of shops or other outlets which may be offering these traps for sale.
Question 584 - Answered on 4th April, 2006
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 205 of 23 March 2005, if there is an independent verification available to his Department to support the figures given in his reply that 20 or more hunting groups kill in total two to three hares in a month.
Ref No: 13053/06. Written reply.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): The figures cited in reply to Question No. 205 of 23 March 2005 are based on information provided by the Irish Masters of Beagles Association on foot of a requirement of their annual licence. As no prior capture of hares from their natural habitat is involved in beagling, this activity has not raised significant conservation concerns. My Department has no evidence upon which to doubt their accuracy of the figures supplied.
Question 526 - Answered on 28th March, 2006
Ciaran Cuffe: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason he extended the hare hunting season by granting a licence to the Irish Masters of Beagles Association, which allowed 20 hunts to chase and kill hares in counties Clare, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Tipperary, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow, throughout the month of March 2006.
Ref No: 11557/06. Written reply.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): Section 26(2) of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, allows the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to grant to the master or other person having charge for the time being of a pack of beagles or harriers a licence to hunt hares in any district or districts specified in the licence with that pack on such day or days, being a day or days which are not specified in the hares order providing for the open season, as are both specified in the licence and are in the year in which the licence is granted.
Following consideration of applications from the Irish Masters of Beagles Association and Cork Southern Hunt Club, it was decided to issue these organisations with a licence for the period from 1 March 2006 to 31 March 2006. Licences have been given for this period annually for the past number of years. As a condition of the licences a return giving the dates and number of hares hunted and killed on each of the days specified shall be made to the national parks and wildlife service of my Department.
Returns from previous years have shown that beagling results in extremely low hare mortality giving no strong conservation reasons to oppose the issue of these licenses: 2005 - three hares killed; 2004 - two hares killed; 2003 - three hares killed; 2002 - two hares killed; 2001 - three hares killed; 2000 - three hares killed.
The death has taken place of Friedenstern Howard, trustee of animal-friendly famine relief charity, Vegfam.
Mr Howard, died at his home on 8th April 2006 after a short illness.
Vegfam, founded over 40 years ago by Friedenstern's mother, provides short- and long-term relief to victims of drought, flood, cyclone and war in over 40 countries. With the slogan "feeding the hungry without exploiting animals", Vegfam has continually highlighted how the environment in developing countries "cannot support two populations - humans and their food animals".
Charities which send livestock to developing countries could learn a lot from Vegfam's commonsense approach to tackling food shortages. Literature published on their website illustrates how 10 acres of land can support 60 people growing soya, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing maize - and just 2 people with grazing cattle.
"Some 40 per cent of the world's cereal harvest is fed to livestock," they point out. "It takes about 30lb of cattle feed to produce 1lb of beef; to feed plants to animals and then feed on the animals or their products is grossly inefficient."
More information about Vegfam can be found on their website at www.veganvillage.co.uk/vegfam
Politicians in Catalonia, Spain are currently considering a law which would make bullfighting illegal in the region. Please take the time to send a short message of support to the relevant political parties.
To whom it concerns:
I wish to express my support for a ban on bullfighting in Catalonia. I hope your political party can give its full support to new legislation to outlaw this barbaric activity.
Thank you and best wishes.
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