Animal Voice - February 2007
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
In This Issue:
01. Latest ICABS magazine now online
01. Latest ICABS magazine now online
The 44-page Winter 2006-07 issue of Animal Voice magazine is now online in the Newsletters section of the ICABS website. It's our 40th Anniversary edition and it's packed with news, updates, action alerts and success stories. Thanks to everyone who has read the newsletter and sent us positive feedback. Available to view online or as a downloadable, printable magazine, this is one highly recommended read!
02. ICABS goes mobile at banbloodsports.com/wap
Whether you're on a bus, on the beach or in the heart of the Irish countryside, now you can keep right up-to-date on the campaign against blood sports.
Visit Ireland's first animal welfare WAP site and get active while you're on the go! To connect to this exciting ICABS site, simply access the "Internet", "Web" or "Services" menu on your mobile phone or wireless device and enter this address: www.banbloodsports.com/wap
This is a free site. You are only charged your standard network rate for WAP browsing.
Designed entirely in-house at ICABS, this important campaigning tool will broaden our support base and make it easier for many people to remain updated on our campaign against animal cruelty.
Content on the site includes:
Latest News - Shortened versions of the most recent news stories and action alerts from our main www.banbloodsports.com website. Very handy if you're away from your PC!
Quick Campaigns - Help make a difference - even if you only have a few minutes to spare. Quick campaigns shows you how to express your opposition to foxhunting, coursing, deer hunting, mink hunting and bullfighting with a simple phone call or email.
Useful Numbers - If you're out and about and you want to report an incident involving animal cruelty or a breach of the Wildlife Act, these numbers will be useful to you.
03. We'll end blood sports: Greens
The Green Party have pledged to ban blood sports in Ireland if they succeed in getting into government after the next general election. In their latest policy document, the party promises that, when in government, they will "introduce legislation to end blood sports" and "campaign for heavy penalties for organisers of, and participants in, illegal blood sports".
The statements appear in an extensive animal welfare section of the policy document and copper fasten the Green Party's commitment to ridding Ireland of blood sport cruelty.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports wholeheartedly welcomes this development which represents the greatest hope in years for hunted animals.
ICABS member and Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, says that when his party gets the opportunity, they will ban hare coursing, foxhunting, carted deer hunting and mink hunting and encourage the alternatives of drag hunting and drag coursing.
Not only are they determined to secure a blood sport ban in Ireland but, if voted into the next government, the Greens will also turn their attention to animal abusers across the continent. "The Party will campaign through the European Parliament for legislation, which will make it an offence to organise or participate in any illegal blood sport in Europe," their policy document outlines.
Furthermore, sporting activities like greyhound racing and horse racing will also become a focus for the party. "We will closely monitor, through the Animal Welfare Agency, other sports which are based on the use of animals to ensure that no cruelty is taking place," they say.
Other positive promises made include working to end the mass exportation of greyhounds to Spain "where they have been ill-treated, exploited and killed" and the implementation of alternative methods of animal population management other than killing. "All living creatures must be treated equally in respect of those aspects in which they are equal," the Green Party document asserts. "These aspects would include sentiency, the capacity of both human and non-human animals of experiencing pain, suffering and anxiety."
"Particularly due to their capacity for experiencing fear, anxiety, pain and suffering, animals must not be maltreated or occasioned discomfort," it adds.
Please vote for TDs who pledge to support legislation banning blood sports in Ireland. Visit banbloodsports.com and click on Political Views to find out the opinions of various TDs. If your TDs are not listed, contact them today and ask them for their stance on blood sports.
Write to your TD at Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
04. Shannon Development to stop publicising hunting
Shannon Development has promised ICABS that references to hunting will be eliminated from future editions of its equestrian brochure.
In a letter to the company in January, ICABS expressed our concerns about the publicity given to blood sports in the 2006 edition of the publication. Hunting groups in Limerick, Tipperary, Clare and Galway were mentioned.
Appealing to Shannon Development's CEO, ICABS highlighted the horrendous animal cruelty involved in hunting. "We hope that you can respond positively to our appeal on the compassionate grounds of avoiding publicising activities involving animal cruelty, activities which are now illegal in our neighbouring jurisdictions of England, Scotland and Wales," we stated.
In response, Tourism Marketing Manager, Pat Daly assured us that "any future publications regarding equestrian based promotions [will] take account of your concerns."
"We will not include hunting references in any future publications/promotions in line with our sister agencies [Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland]," he added.
ICABS is delighted at this positive response which means that hunting will no longer be promoted by Shannon Development in the 10,000 square kilometre area they cover. We have thanked them for becoming the latest body to stop publicising hunting in Ireland.
05. Ganly Walters re-establishes anti-hunt policy
The Managing Director of international property consultants, Ganly Walters, has told ICABS that the company has re-established its policy of keeping foxhunt references out of marketing material.
Paul McDowell was responding to a letter from ICABS in which we queried the company's current policy on the issue. This was prompted by the appearance of hunt references in a number of property listings on the Ganly Walters website.
Mr McDowell explained that "the company has grown in recent years with new personnel who may not have been aware of our policy" and added that "this policy has now been re-established."
The company originally announced its anti-hunt policy following an ICABS appeal in 2004. Quoted in the Sunday Times at the time, a company agent said: "The anti-blood sports people highlighted the issue for us and so we decided to have a rethink on it. Whether we like it or not, the anti-foxhunting lobby has grown stronger and we came to the conclusion that many more people would be offended today by references to foxhunting. It seemed to make sense to rectify the situation."
ICABS is delighted that Ganly Walters has assured us that this policy remains in place.
06. Property Partners remove hunt references from website
Property Partners have removed a hunting reference from their website following an appeal from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. A company spokesperson commented that they "do not affiliate ourselves with blood sports of any sort" and that references to hunting were removed immediately.
Our appeal was prompted by a property listing which referred to an equestrian centre in Limerick as being in the heart of the county's hunt country and an ideal location for hunting. The listing has since been modified and the company has stated that they "do not condone blood sports" and that "hunting references shall be excluded from Property listings on our website."
ICABS welcomes this positive reply and we thank Property Partners for their response.
07. GAA pitch will not be hunt meet location
The GAA has assured ICABS that a pitch in County Limerick will not be used as the meeting location for a hunt.
A notice for the "Abbeyfeale Harriers Hunting Festival 2007" (displayed on the Countryside Alliance website) listed the GAA Pitch at Tournafulla as being the meeting point for a hunt.
When ICABS asked the GAA head office to investigate this, we were told that "the Limerick County Board have stated that as far as they are concerned the pitch will not be used for these purposes and have been in contact with the local GAA club in this regard."
ICABS has thanked the GAA for their positive and prompt response.
08. Bedlam as Ward Union invades school playground
Children were left in tears and running for safety after hounds from the controversial Ward Union Hunt invaded a school playground in County Meath on 23 January 2007. Eyewitnesses described the incident as a "nightmare" and "bedlam" and said it was a miracle that nobody was hurt.
The scene was condemned by parents from Kildalkey Village who called RTE Radio's Liveline show. Infuriated locals told of how a bloodied and screeching stag was chased by hounds into the playground. "It was a dangerous situation," commented one parent who said that with horses blocking the road, she was unable to get across to the school to see where her child was.
A school bus driver approaching the school described how hunt followers "held up the whole road". She said her young passengers started shouting out the bus that the hunters were cruel. She told Joe Duffy that, in response, the hunt followers gave the children "the finger". "It was an utter disgrace," she stated, adding that the chaos subsequently left her a half an hour late in getting the children to their destinations.
She went on to recall how one little first-class boy started crying. "He wanted his mother," she said. "He didn't know what was going on."
Another woman said that if anything had gone wrong, an ambulance wouldn't have been able to get down the road which was clogged with hunt vehicles and horses. "It was the luck of God that no child was injured," she remarked.
As a result of the hunt's incursion on to the Kildalkey National School property, the principal initiated the school's "Critical incident Plan" for the first time ever. This included instructing teachers to keep children inside the school.
"The school staff and parents immediately swung into action to ensure the safety of the children," she told Liveline listeners, detailing how the pack of hounds chased the deer around the school grounds a few times. "It was a terrifying experience for me as an adult and I can just imagine that for children it would be very terrifying," she said.
One farmer who phoned in to the show said he had never before seen "an animal so shook looking". "I pitied him," he said. "He was covered in a lather of sweat and his tongue was hanging out."
When he questioned the hunt about their behaviour, he said they told him to "F*** off."
URGENT ACTION ALERTS
Please write to Minister Dick Roche and demand that he stop licensing the Ward Union Hunt.
Minister Dick Roche
Please appeal to Minister Mary Coughlan (she is responsible for animal welfare and the Protection of Animals Act) to intervene to end carted deer hunting.
Minister Mary Coughlan
09. Call for licence withdrawal as deer hunt resumes
Following an incident involving hounds chasing a deer into a school playground, the Ward Union deer hunt announced that they had "suspended hunting indefinitely". It emerged a few days later, however, that the hunt were back chasing their domesticated, captive-bred deer. ICABS is calling for the hunt's licence to be revoked.
In a letter to Environment Minister, Dick Roche, ICABS stated: "We were dismayed to read in the current edition of the Meath Chronicle that the Ward Union hunt have resumed hunting despite overwhelming opposition to their activities. We renew our appeal to you to please immediately revoke the hunt's current licence and stop issuing further licences to this hunt."
According to the February 3rd edition of the Meath Chronicle: "Hunting was suspended by the Ward Union on Friday to allow for a review of the incident but resumed yesterday (Tuesday)."
In a report headed "Furious backlash against hunt", the principal of the school whose grounds was invaded by the hunters and hounds said that the quick reactions of staff and parents had "averted what could have been a catastrophe had the children been out".
The ordeal was "frightening and dangerous" and the "children were very upset", she told the Chronicle, adding that she and the children had said a prayer the next day "to thank God that everyone was safe".
Ward Union Hunt chairman Oliver Russell was quoted as admitting that the incident had caused "anxiety and stress to staff and potential risk to the children".
The report went on to reveal that the Gardai in Trim received "numerous complaints about the Ward Union Hunt" and that the incident in Kildalkey has prompted landowners in the area to ban them - and neighbouring hunts - from coming on to their property.
One local farmer was reported as saying that he heard the dogs barking in his yard and saw that the hounds were running across a field of wheat with the horses after them. He said he roared at them and asked who gave them permission to come in and they ignored him. "About 100 to 120 horses came through the hole in the hedge. They ignored my request to vacate," he said.
Farmer, Denis Smith, said that the deer was trapped in his yard, hardly able to move and had run around the side of his house and out into a field. Mr Smith said the cattle in a nearby shed went hysterical and that, three minutes later, about 70 horses came "ploughing across the field". "They have no respect for anybody's property," he said. "The state the deer was in was something wicked. I'll give in to a lot of sports but anyone who calls that sport is sad."
Another eyewitness commented that he was about a half a mile from the village when the stag came by. "The stag came by ready to collapse. He was covered in mud and water. It's a disgrace. The steam and sweat coming off him," he recalled.
10. Call for Garda Inquiry into Deer Hunt Cruelty
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has made a formal complaint to the Garda Commissioner and called for a Garda investigation into alleged cruelty to a deer by the Ward Union hunt club contrary to the 1911 Protection of Animals Act on Tuesday, January 23rd last.
ICABS has also made a formal complaint to the Garda Commissioner to investigate an incident where a pack of hounds of the Ward Union hunt club were allegedly out of control and pursued a deer around the grounds of a school, contrary to the Control of Dogs Act on the same date.
The incident was highlighted on RTE's Joe Duffy's Liveline show on Wednesday, January 24th, when parents of children attending Kildalkey Primary School, Co Meath, gave harrowing and vivid accounts of how a deer, pursued by a pack of dogs, entered the school grounds, prompting the Principal to initiate the school's "Critical incident Plan" for the first time ever.
11. Tony Gregory raises Ward Union issue in Dail Eireann
ICABS Vice-president, Tony Gregory, TD, has raised the issue of the Ward Union carted deer hunt in the Irish Parliament. Referring to the hunt's chasing of a deer into a school playground in Kildalkey, he told the Dail that "people were outraged that this type of activity is licensed by a Minister" and that "it is time it was brought to an end."
Please see below for extracts from the speech. To see the full text, please click on Latest News at www.banbloodsports.com and scroll down to Tony Gregory raises Ward Union issue in Dail Eireann.
"In full view of a number of witnesses, including parents, children and local people the stag was hunted into a schoolyard. A pack of savage hounds was set on the stag. The stag was clearly terrified and exhausted. It was then hunted out onto the public road and was finally pursued by men in a jeep until it collapsed. I pay tribute to RTE's "Liveline" show for drawing attention to the issue in great detail. The Minister and those responsible for issuing licences to the Ward union Hunt would prefer if it got as little publicity as possible."
"The deer hunted by the Ward Union Hunt are well-known to be tame domesticated animals. For that reason, departmental wildlife inspectors have sent memoranda to the Minister telling him that these deer should not be hunted and that licences should not be granted to anyone to hunt them. The Protection of Animals Act 1911 expressly forbids terrorising or causing unnecessary suffering to any domesticated animal. That is the law."
12. Three words for Ward Union hunters - "Get a job"
Commenting on the fact that the Ward Union find the time to chase deer twice a week (Tuesday and Friday) during the season, one Navan resident had the following advice for the hunters: "Get a job".
In a letter published in the Meath Chronicle on February 3rd, 2007, Maeve Quinn wrote: "I am writing regarding the barbaric events this week at Kildalkey involving the 'hunting set', a terrified stag and some terrified school children. Apparently the 'hunting set' have been terrorising animals in Meath for well over 100 years on a Tuesday and Friday each week and are proud of this fact. I have three words to say to them: Get a job."
13. Drag hunting option "a possibility": Ward Union master
ICABS has asked Minister Dick Roche to watch a video clip in which Ward Union hunt master, Michael Bailey, doesn't rule out the possibility of the controversial deer hunt choosing to go drag hunting instead.
This significant ICABS footage from 2004 demonstrates that the hunt is open to alternatives and should signal to Minister Roche that when he finally decides to stop licensing the Ward Union, the hunt will be willing to change.
Answering questions from ICABS campaign director, Aideen Yourell and ICABS vice-president, Tony Gregory TD, Mr Bailey is clearly receptive to the idea of replacing the abuse of deer with the humane drag hunt alternative. "I'm not saying that's not a possibility," he says. The conversation took place following a hunt in County Meath in which a sweating deer with its tongue hanging out was seen desperately running across a field, under a wire fence and over a ditch. Also witnessed was a scene involving hunt hounds invading the garden of a local woman who shouted at them to get out.
To view the video clip, please visit the ICABS channel at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0aptvIcRQ8
To read a transcript of the conversation, click on Latest News at www.banbloodsports.com and scroll down to
14. ISPCA joins calls for hunt ban
Ireland's national animal welfare organisation, the ISPCA, has joined calls for hunting to be banned. Describing fox hunting and stag hunting as "a despicable form of deliberate cruelty", the society has urged the government to "take immediate steps to ban all forms of hunting with hounds".
In a statement issued at the end of January, the Society said it is receiving an increasing number of complaints from the farming community about "the stress caused to farm animals by hounds hunting through flocks of heavily pregnant sheep and other livestock at this time of year".
To see the full text of the statement, please visit the Latest News section of the ICABS website and scroll down to
15. Farming group demands deer hunt ban
The Farmers Against Foxhunting And Trespass organisation has become the latest group to demand a ban on the Ward Union deer hunt. In a statement issued in early February, they have called on farmers to "take a stand against these out of control marauders in our countryside."
Chairman Philip Lynch, condemned the hunt after they "invaded a school playground in Kildalkey, Co. Meath, rode roughshod through the village, causing traffic chaos and risk to life and limb, and then continued on their merry way to invade farmers' lands, without permission, cutting wire, and treating the landowners with arrogance and contempt."
Highlighting the success of FAFT in stopping hunts from trespassing on farmland, he urged farmers around the country to take a similar stand. Drag hunting is being backed by the group as a solution to trespassing hunters and hounds. Said Mr Lynch: " This will prevent hunts from encroaching on lands, roads, schools, or villages where they are not wanted."
For the full text of the FAFT statement, please click on Latest News at www.banbloodsports.com and scroll down to
16. Keeping hunts out: ICABS advice to landowners
Unless hunters hold sporting rights to hunt on your property (this is not usually the case but if so, it will be specified on the title deeds to the property), neither they nor their dogs have a right to trespass on your property.
Under the (Control of Dogs Act - www.irishstatutebook.ie/1986_32.html), dogs must be kept "under effectual control" so if hunt hounds come on to property where they do not have permission to be, this would be an offence and the Gardai should be notified. (If possible, take photos or video footage to prove it took place). If trespass occurs by members of the hunt, the Gardai should be notified as well.
Sometimes hunts will say something like "we go where the dogs go" or "we didn't know we weren't allowed to enter your property" but this is not acceptable. If they didn't receive permission to enter the property, they should not be there.
Farmers affected by hunt trespass may wish to contact the Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass organisation which offers advice to landowners. Their chairman, Philip Lynch, can be reached at 056-7725309.
Please also see the Irish Council Against Blood Sports information leaflet, Troubled by the Hunt.
17. Renewed call for coursing ban as cruelty continues
As the so-called national finals of hare coursing took place in Clonmel in early February, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports once again called for a ban on this outdated animal abuse.
It is now two years since hare coursing was outlawed in Britain, leaving Ireland as the last bastion of this backwoods cruelty - somewhat of an irony since we inherited this "sport" from Britain.
And so the cruelty continues, courtesy of the Minister for the Environment, who grants an exclusive licence to the Irish Coursing Club to snatch around 7,000 hares from the wild every year - this despite the fact that the hare has been designated by his own department as being of "the highest conservation concern" and all hare hunting has been suspended in Northern Ireland for the past number of years in response to a decline in hare numbers in that jurisdiction.
Hares continue to be struck and mauled to death at hare coursing meetings, according to reports obtained by ICABS under FOI. In the 2005/06 season, a ranger reported that "hares were not in great condition" at a meeting in Gorey, and in Tubbercurry, a ranger reported that six hares were "badly mauled by dogs" at Tubbercurry, while in Westmeath, a hare's leg was "almost completely broken off", 15 hares were hit by greyhounds, with four of these injured. ICABS believes that these occurrences are only the tip of the iceberg as only a small percentage of all coursing meetings are monitored by the National Parks and Wildlife Service due lack of manpower.
ICABS has urged Minister Roche and the Taoiseach to view our drag coursing presentation at www.youtube.com/icabs and to force the coursers to adopt this humane alternative.
URGENT ACTION ALERTS
Please write to Minister Dick Roche and demand that he stop licensing hare coursing.
Minister Dick Roche
Please appeal to Minister Mary Coughlan (she is responsible for animal welfare and the Protection of Animals Act) to intervene to end hare coursing.
Minister Mary Coughlan
Please also contact your local TDs/Senators and urge them to put pressure on the Environment Minister to ban hare coursing and to protect the precious hare species from all forms of persecution.
Write to your TD at Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Write to your Senator at Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
For TD/Senator names, visit www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist.
18. Stop facilitating coursing club's fundraising
A Galway-based company has been urged to stop facilitating the fundraising efforts of a hare coursing club.
Reacting to a listing on the localotto.ie website, ICABS urged management to exclude blood sports groups from availing of the online lotto service.
The listing for Co Kerry's Lixnaw Coursing Club boasts that their lotto plays "a huge part in the fund raising efforts of our club". Among the items purchased by the club are hare paddocks (enclosures where hares are confined prior to and during coursing meetings).
In a letter to localotto in November 2006, we highlighted the huge opposition to coursing in Ireland and provided images showing hares being hit and mauled by greyhounds around the country.
The company has yet to reply.
Please contact localotto.ie and ask them to stop facilitating the fundraising efforts of a coursing club.
Mr Warren Healy
Dear Mr Healy,
I am writing to convey my disappointment that your local lotto company is facilitating the fundraising efforts of a coursing club.
Please have a look at the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' video presentation at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFdjBy5S8k8 to see the type of animal cruelty involved in coursing.
Please prevent blood sport groups from availing of your service. Eighty per cent of Irish citizens want coursing banned in Ireland. Due to its integral cruelty, it is already illegal in England, Scotland and Wales.
Is this the type of activity you wish to have your award winning company's good name associated with?
I look forward to your response.
A hunt hound was seen entering a private garden and killing a cat, according to a report in the Limerick Leader. The creature was found by distraught neighbours during a harrier hunt on St Stephen's Day.
Quoted in the article, local woman Mary Cooke said neighbours saw the cat being killed by the hound. "The cat was very old and her hind legs were gone and she couldn't run," Ms Cook said. "I am hardly able to sleep at night thinking about it. It is revolting."
Although a hunt spokesperson tried to claim to the newspaper that hounds "would never follow a cat", it emerged that members of the hunt "approached the owners of the cat and apologised for the incident".
ICABS has also been told that an attempt was made to remove the dead cat from the scene following the incident. "I shouted at the hunt follower four times to come back," an eyewitness said. "He was letting on he was taking the cat to the vet (at this stage the cat was dead). Some of the hunt crowd were laughing."
This is the latest hunt-related incident involving attacks on domestic pets. Past victims have included a girl's cat (hounds killed the cat in her back garden in Lurgan) and a sheep dog (suffered severe injuries to its hind quarters, back and paws after being mauled by foxhounds).
Please write to the Minister for the Environment and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Demand full protection for the hares and foxes killed by hunting groups and express your concerns about the continued attacks on pets.
Minister Dick Roche
20. Some unpleasant truths about hunting
Hounds killing a hunt servant, cats deliberately targeted by hunters, the threat to humans and livestock from diseased foxhounds. ICABS Correspondent, Dick Power, reports on the unpleasant truths about hunting...
Among the reports on the hunting activities of St Stephen's Day was the savaging of an old cat in her owner's garden. Not everyone knows, however, that cats have been deliberately targeted by hunters.
"No man or woman ought to be allowed on the hunting field until they have read and thoroughly digested 'Thoughts on Hunting'," asserts one Capt. J. Paget, introducing the 8th edition of Peter Beckford's 1951 book.
Beckford assures his readers that a cat is as good a trail as any and he refers to an old huntsman friend who trained young hounds by dragging a cat along the ground for a mile or two in front of them. Beckford outlines how he himself begins training his young hounds in August by having his huntsman release a cat before them, which they hunt up to a kill.
Cat owners, you are being warned.
Never attempt to save a pet from a pack of hounds. It is recorded that hounds killed a hunt servant in County Galway many moons ago. More recently, hounds attacked and injured a housewife in the garage of her home in Leinster.
Never fondle foxhounds either. As far back as the 1960s, foxhounds were found to be hosts of two difficult parasites - Trichinella and Echinococcus. Investigators concluded that they became infected with Trichinella as a result of killing and eating foxes caught during hunting. Infection in humans arises from handling dogs. Sheep may also pick up the parasites from pasture which has been contaminated by the dogs.
Under current legislation, all dogs must be kept under control in public places. In the time of landlordism, it was said that the poor were struck out of the protection of the law, the rich out of its penalties. The landlords are gone but their despicable attitude prevails very evidently in the hunting fraternity.
21. New 2007 Petition: Ban Blood Sports in Ireland
Now it's even easier than ever to express your opposition to blood sports in Ireland. Choose from either:
- Printing and signing a paper petition
For more details, visit the Petitions Page at www.banbloodsports.com
Copies of filled petitions will be sent to the government to remind them of the majority opposition to blood sports. Thanks to everyone who has already signed our petition. And special thanks to those who collect signatures for the petition. We greatly appreciate your efforts.
22. Ireland's rarest mammal on the increase
A national pine marten survey has found that Ireland's rarest mammal is now on the increase. A report published by COFORD (the National Council for Forest Research and Development) reveals that afforestation and reduced persecution is helping to save the elusive stoat-like creature from extinction here.
The authors of the National Pine Marten Survey of Ireland 2005 (published in September 2006) say that these latest findings show a "a significant increase" compared to the results of a study carried out in the early 80s. "The distribution of the species is increasing in a number of regions of Ireland," their report outlines. "These include the southwest, southeast, Slieve Bloom mountains and parts of the west. This increase is largely occurring from core population areas and represents a natural expansion in the species range."
The improved state of the pine marten population has been attributed not only to greater rates of afforestation across the country but also to a ban on shooting, hunting, poisoning and trapping of the species. In its conclusions, the COFORD survey states that the increase in numbers is "probably due to reduced persecution, due to the legal protection afforded [to] the species in the 1970s, increased habitat availability and connectivity provided through increased rates of afforestation and deliberate reintroductions."
It's not all good news for the species, however. Pine martens sadly remain absent in "relatively large regions of Ireland". And it's the destruction of the species by humans that may be to blame, say the survey co-ordinators. They state: "It is suggested that absence of pine martens from areas in the east of the country may be due to historical persecution which may have devastated pine marten populations locally, and perhaps even regionally, and that such areas may not currently have pine martens as they are too distant from resident populations in surrounding areas that could provide the opportunity for natural recolonisation."
A copy of the "National Pine Marten survey of Ireland 2005" can be downloaded from the COFORD website.
Staff employed by Coillte, the national forestry company, were involved in this pine marten survey and the presence of pine martens was recorded at 27 separate Coillte properties. This forestry clearly forms an important part of the species' habitat. Please write to Coillte and urge them to help shield the protected pine marten from persecution or disturbance by banning all forms of hunting from their property.
Coillte, Irish Forestry Board
I was happy to read that a report published last year by COFORD found that pine martens are on the increase in Ireland. I understand that Coillte staff made a valuable contribution to the national survey and that a pine marten presence was detected in 27 of your properties.
Coillte's forests clearly form an important part of this precious creature's habitat and I wish to appeal to your company to ensure that it is given every possible protection. I implore you to make Coillte property a safe haven for the pine marten (and all Irish fauna) by implementing a no-kill policy in your forests and banning all forms of wildlife destruction. I have no doubt that hunters killing non-protected mammals and birds in your forests constitute a disturbance and a threat to the pine marten.
I hope that my appeal will be given serious consideration by Coillte and I look forward to hearing from you in this regard.
23. Ranger vacancies in blood sport black spots
ICABS is calling on Environment Minister, Dick Roche, to urgently recruit more National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers. Just 70 wildlife rangers cover all of the 26 counties and some of these, it has been revealed, are confined to desk duties.
According to an article in the Irish Independent last year, the number of rangers was put at around 90 but we have since discovered that the picture is even bleaker.
A listing on the NPWS website shows that out of a total of just 78 ranger positions, only 70 are filled. Among the eight vacancies are for rangers in blood sport black spots like Kildare, Meath and Tipperary. In some cases, a single ranger is covering an entire county.
An Environment Department spokesperson told the Independent that the unfilled NPWS positions are due to a ban on public sector recruitment.
"There is a difficulty with numbers because of the government embargo," he said. "There is the same number of rangers as 2002, but less on the ground."
URGENT ACTION ALERT
Please join us in calling on Minister Dick Roche to ensure that all existing ranger positions are filled and that new positions are urgently created to detect crimes against wildlife and to help protect animals and habitats. We have suggested that a ban on hare coursing would free up rangers' time and resources; rangers could devote time to protecting the hare species instead of monitoring coursing meetings.
Minister Dick Roche
24. NPWS Rangers - Contact Details
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has a network of local conservation rangers located across Ireland. Their role includes policing the Wildlife Act and they are available to discuss queries in relation to local conservation issues. For contact details of the ranger covering your area, please visit the Latest News section at www.banbloodsports.com and click on Ranger vacancies in blood sport black spots.
Alternatively, contact the NPWS directly at:
25. Hunt paintings show only half the story
A picture is worth a thousand words, but if it's a hunting scene hanging in a stately home, you're only getting half the story, writes ICABS Campaign Director, Aideen Yourell. In a letter published in the Irish Independent, she highlights how the animal cruelty aspect of hunting is rarely acknowledged by blinkered hunt followers.
Another side to hunting (Irish Independent - January 25th, 2007)
"There is a side to hunting that you will never see portrayed in the paintings that adorn many a hallway around the country," wrote hunting enthusiast Caitriona Murphy [in reference to the "hardship" encountered by mounted hunters who come a cropper at fences and ditches]. (Irish Independent, January 16).
One side to hunting that will certainly never be seen in these paintings is the cruelty meted out to the defenceless victims. This side to hunting is carefully hidden from view and even hunt followers like Caitriona Murphy herself are unlikely to be exposed to the horror of seeing a squealing fox being dug out of its earth, or the searing sight of a fox or hare being ripped apart by hounds.
Spare a thought also for the horses which are pushed to their limits and beyond during hunt outings. We have seen horses being whipped and kicked when they hesitate in front of insurmountable obstacles. One hunt official is on record as saying: "I'd need four horses to keep me going for the season, between horses getting cut and broke down and whatever..."
A picture is worth a thousand words, but if it's a hunting scene hanging in a stately home, you're only getting half the story.
If you spot a hunting scene on display in a hotel or pub, educate the manager about the reality of blood sports in Ireland. Suggest that a photo or painting showing the beauty of wildlife would make better viewing for customers.
ICABS has renewed its appeal to the Garda Commissioner to act to keep hunting groups off public roads. Our call is in the interests of road safety and co-incides with a new "Hunts on our roads" video presentation on ICABS TV.
To watch the video, please click on the following link:
ICABS has also invited the Traffic Corps of An Garda Siochana, the Minister for Transport and the Road Safety Authority to view the presentation which explicitly shows the true extent of the problem.
In previous correspondence to the Gardai, we pointed out that if a motorist hits a hunt horse or swerves to avoid a collision with horses or hounds, serious injuries or fatalities may result. Join us now in our drive to make Irish roads safer for motorists and pedestrians.
1. Please do not hesitate 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/angarda/stations.html
2. Ask the Minister for Transport to view the "Hunts on our Roads" video presentation and enquire what action his department will be taking to eliminate the inconvenience and potential danger to road users caused by hunting groups.
Minister Martin Cullen
3. Contact the Road Safety Officer in your local county council and ask him/her to act to keep local hunting groups off public roads.
27. Cockfighting may be banned in New Mexico
Back in October 2006, ICABS joined international calls for cockfighting to be banned in the US state of New Mexico.
In a letter to the state governor, The Honorable Bill Richardson, we stated: "Cockfighting is a particularly cruel activity which has been banned in all but two US states - as well as here in Ireland. We understand that a huge majority of New Mexico residents want cockfighting banned. We hope you will act on their wishes and urgently rid the state of this abhorrent animal abuse."
We were delighted to learn this week that a ban on the activity may be imminent. According to the NBC website, "Cockfighting may be on its last legs in N.M." with presidential hopeful, Governor Richardson, coming out strongly in favour of a ban. The Associated Press has reported that the state's three Roman Catholic bishops have also joined the majority of locals calling for a ban. “We’re talking about taking an animal and strapping on razor blades for recreation,” said Allen Sanchez of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops.
1. Please contact the New Mexico Governor to express your support for a ban on cockfighting.
The Honorable Bill Richardson
Email via website: www.governor.state.nm.us/email.php?mm=6&type=opinion
Tel: 001 (505) 476 2200
2. Sign a petition: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17041984
3. Cockfighting is illegal in Ireland but sadly continues in some parts of the country. If you have information about cockfighting activities, please notify the Gardai and alert the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. To witness the barbarity of this blood sports, please click on Videos at www.banbloodsports.com.
28. New declaration seeking EU ban on bullfighting
A declaration seeking to underline the EU's commitment to banning bullfighting has been presented to the European Parliament. If signed by a majority of MEPs before April 14th, it could mark the beginning of the end for this horrendous blood sport across Europe. Please join us today in urging MEPs to sign Written Declaration 0002/2007.
To succeed, this declaration must be signed by a majority (393) of MEPs before 14th April 2007. Please help to ensure that the declaration gets the majority support that reflects Europe's mass opposition to bullfighting. Please urgently contact your country's MEPs (please see contact details and sample letter below). If you are part of an animal welfare group, encourage all your supporters to write to the MEPs, asking them to sign and support Written Declaration 0002/2007 ("Written declaration on the EU-wide ban on bullfighting").
A list of MEPs by country can be found on the European Parliament Website - www.europarl.europa.eu/members/public.do?language=en.
For Ireland's MEPs, please click on Latest News at www.banbloodsports.com and scroll down to
I am entirely opposed to bullfighting and am writing to ask you to please sign Written declaration 0002/2007.
Presented by your colleagues Robert Evans, Mojca Drcar Murko, Gitte Seeberg and Carl Schlyter, this important declaration calls for an EU-wide ban on bullfighting. Bullfighting is a horrendously cruel activity which results in the torture to death of tens of thousands of bulls throughout the EU. Such cruelty should no longer be tolerated here in the European Union.
Please sign Written Declaration 0002/2007 and help rid Europe of this universally condemned activity.
Thank you very much. I look forward to your positive reply.
29. Bullrunning - on the Coke side of life
ICABS has challenged the Coca Cola company on its latest television advert which includes a bullrunning scene. In a letter to their head office in Atlanta, we highlighted the cruelty of bullrunning and asked for the offensive portion of the ad to be edited out. As part of our appeal, we also flagged the extreme danger to human participants and detailed how an American man was left paralysed after being hit during last year's bullrun festival in Pamplona.
The advert, which was aired on Irish TV, revolves around a man who gets to drink coke for the first time. This prompts him to wonder what other new experiences he has missed out on throughout his life. One of these is running with the bulls at a bullrunning festival - a scene from the ad shows him running down a narrow street with the bulls in pursuit.
The company has been told about the reality of bullrunning and reminded of a statement they issued to us in 2004 which outlined that "the Coca-Cola Company has a policy in force stating that our operations would not associate itself where there is a risk of physical harm to animals."
We are currently awaiting a response from Coca Cola and hope to include an update on this story in the next edition of Animal Voice.
Other major companies who have publicised bullrunning in the recent past include Ryanair (they gave extensive coverage to the Pamplona bullrun in their in-flight magazine last year) and the HP printer company (an online HP radio ad referred to photos taken of "Uncle Jack running with the bulls in Pamplona").
30. Minister asked to consider wildlife ranger uniforms
ICABS has asked Environment Minister, Dick Roche, to consider providing wildlife rangers with an official uniform.
Unlike in other countries, Ireland's National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers currently do not have a uniform.
In a letter to Minister Roche, ICABS pointed out that "uniforms would help raise the profile of the rangers in the community and give them added status and authority."
The Minister has told us that he has asked his department to consider the suggestion.
"It seems that otters kill mink and even eat them. This is based on observations from several countries and recently our own wildlife rangers have collected otter droppings, or spraints, with mink bones in them...Hayden and Harrington in Exploring Irish Mammals write: 'Mink populations have a self-regulating mechanism relating to their territorial behaviour.' What this means is that if you shoot or trap a mink another will almost instantly fill its place. In fact if you kill a big, strong mink you could actually increase the number of animals in the area as its territory may well be divided between two weaker mink. No, when it comes to controlling the numbers of mink we'd be much better off encouraging otters to do the job rather than trying to take on the task ourselves." ("Battle of the otter and the mink" by Dick Warner, Irish Examiner, 27 November 2006)
"Ms Cooke said that many of her neighbours are concerned for the welfare of young children who may be playing in gardens and faced with a pack of hounds. She said that the Limerick Harriers should give people clear [notice] prior to every hunt so that they can protect their children and domestic animals who may be at risk." (Limerick Leader, January 12, 2007)
"In addition the nature of a hunt is not compatible with 21st century living, especially in the more developed areas such as the east of the republic. There are too many houses, roads, developed farmlands, domestic and farmed livestock, and of course people, to allow the activities of a hunt to operate safely." ("Letter to the Editor - Hunting is outdated activity" by David and Mary Hawcroft, Meath Chronicle, February 3, 2007)
"For all the talk of 40,000 people being prepared to break the law and go to prison, it is pretty clear that most folk will not be prepared to go into the countryside on a regular basis and take part in something that is illegal. Whichever way you look at it, those who want to go hunting will, in the coming years, be paying to watch an artificial form of sport, a sort of faux hunting involving the chasing of old socks soaked either in aniseed or essence of hare or fox – the uncomfortable in pursuit of the undignified." (from the website of the UK's The Field magazine)
"Brian Fanshawe, secretary of the Council of Hunting Associations, points out that while older hounds will probably show little interest in following an artificial trail, people who really know how to handle hounds are able to train them to do most things." (from the website of the UK's The Field magazine)
"We might still have the Celtic Tiger, but we're about to lose the Celtic red squirrel, bat, barn owl, otter, and dozens of other endangered wildlife species. Our little furry friends now face extinction because of forestry, road building, housing developments and farm practices....Today, the Government will finally try and halt a spiral of decline in Ireland's native wildlife. A deadline of 2010 has been set for the campaign to halt the loss of animals, plants, and native trees. Environment Minister Dick Roche will tell developers, builders, farmers and local authorities they must stop developments that decimate wildlife. The Government is obliged to take the action under a UN convention on sustaining biological diversity." ("Let's save our at-risk species before they're lost forever", Irish Independent, January 16th, 2007)
"Martin Long, the head of the Communications Office, confirmed to the Irish Independent that he has been receiving strong emails from anti-blood sports enthusiasts. Mr Long said that he informs complainants that this is not an issue for the national Episcopal conference, but is a matter for each of the 26 diocesan bishops to deal with in his own jurisdiction. Last night Aideen Yourell, of the Mullingar-based Irish Council Against Blood Sports, confirmed that some years ago she had conveyed her concerns to a group of Irish bishops about priests being involved in hunting. But she strongly denied that the Council has used intimidatory methods against priests. 'In no way is our approach to use intimidation and fear in expressing our concerns. We approach people nicely, and we quote the section of the Church's social catechism which encourages people to respect all God's creation.'" ("Fox-hunting priests are 'hounded out of the chase'", Irish Independent, January 4th, 2007)
"The Ward Union Hunt can have just as much fun in terms of chase, jumping and conviviality if the Minister would insist on drag hunting (mounted hunters following an artificially laid scent). Despite hunt officials admitting that the deer 'could not accurately be described as wildlife', the minister continues to license the harassment of farmed deer under the Wildlife Act". (from a Letter to the Editor by Roy Rohu, Co Mayo, Daily Mail, February 2nd, 2007).
The ISPCA has joined ICABS in calling for a ban on the deplorable practise of nest shooting.
As highlighted in the December 06 edition of Animal Voice, nest shooting sees shooters firing weapons into the nests of crows, magpies, pigeons, starlings and other non-protected birds. Not only is this a loathsome transgression against nature but it can result in protected birds being killed.
According to the Inishowen Raptor Study Group, nest shooting can pose a "serious threat". They stated that some protected birds of prey use the nests of non-protected birds and are in danger of being blasted to death by nest shooters.
Responding, Minister Dick Roche stressed that "Birds of prey are strictly protected under national and EU law."
"In no circumstance is the shooting of birds of prey permitted, and the practice that you describe of shooting birds of prey on their nests would be regarded by this Department as a very serious offence which, given the necessary evidence, we would prosecute," he added.
ICABS has renewed its call on the National Parks and Wildlife Service to advise the Minister to outlaw the shooting of any nest.
Thank you to everybody who responded to our "Scrap falconry centre" Action Alert in April 2006 regarding the confinement of birds on the grounds of Belvedere House in Mullingar. For most of the day, the creatures were kept in cages or on perches with a short restraint attached to their feet. Those who found this sight disturbing will be pleased to learn that the falconry centre at Belvedere has now closed.
According to a report on Emigrant Online in December, Belvedere's general manager, Bartle D'Arcy confirmed the closure of the two-year old centre but denied that it was due to any fall in numbers. The report said that "it appears that rising costs of insurance and feed have necessitated the closure". It is believed that there were forty birds (including eagles, falcons, owls and hawks) at the centre. "Half the birds are due to be sold while Mr Tuffrey will take the remainder to England," it added.
ANVIL Ireland is calling on An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, to create a new ministerial position to oversee the protection of pets in Ireland.
"The lack of Ministerial and Departmental responsibility impacts on, public attitude, funding, and legislation," stated group spokesperson, Miriam Anderson. "The main animal protection legislation in Ireland dates from 1911, and is outdated and ineffective. Successive governments and politicians in general, have largely ignored animal protection resulting in a problem that is out of control. Independent animal rescue groups are overworked, undervalued, and rely on ex gratia payments to keep going."
To sign this petition, visit www.petitiononline.com/anvil/petition.html.
ANVIL will be holding its first regional meeting at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan on Sunday 25th February at 2pm. Anyone who is interested in improving the situation for animals is very welcome to attend.
The Eurogroup for Animals has reported that the European Commission’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health has agreed a new regulation which bans the import into the EU of birds caught in the wild. From 1st July 2007, only birds which are bred in captivity in approved establishments in a small number of countries may be imported.
Eurogroup’s Director Sonja Van Tichelen hailed the development as "a happy day for the millions of birds which will be saved by this measure".
"Eurogroup and its member organisations have campaigned against these imports for many years and it is encouraging that the EU has finally listened to the overwhelming scientific arguments about the disease risks and to public concern about the animals’ suffering and the sustainability of the trade," she commented. "We will now monitor how these new rules are implemented both by the member States and by the third countries which will export captive bred birds”.
36. Wanted: Blood sports newspaper clippings
Thank you to those who have posted and emailed us newspaper reports about the activities of blood sports groups around Ireland. Please continue to send in these articles and we will follow them up where possible. If you see letters to the editor on the theme of blood sports, please also send us a copy.
Footage of blood sport cruelty and the humane alternatives can now be viewed on the new ICABS Channel at www.youtube.com/icabs. When responding to an ICABS action alert, please give the channel a mention as it is a powerful tool in highlighting the reality of blood sport abuse in Ireland. New video presentations added in recent weeks include: Hunts on our roads, Ward Union: Drag hunt possibility and Landowners and hunts.
Please become a supporter of ICABS. Annual rates are just 15 Euro (Individual), 20 Euro (Family) and 8 Euro (Unwaged). 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. Your generosity ensures that our work for Irish animals will continue.
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