Animal Voice - October 2007
World Animal Week Special Edition

Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports

In This Issue:

01. Happy World Animal Week
02. Disturbing details emerge about Ward Union deer that dropped dead
03. ICABS videos viewed 1/4 million times
04. Bishop advocates mercy towards all creatures
05. Gardai asked to tackle crimes against animals
06. Tony Gregory questions Minister about blood sport licensing
07. Hunters slam Ward Union's abuse of deer
08. The beauty of Irish wildlife
09. Competition: Win a book!
10. ICABS responds to Paul Carberry deer claim
11. Fox in the garden
12. ICABS blasts "coursing is humane" claim
13. Irish greyhound shot after losing race at Scottish stadium
14. Ask Fingal Co Co to ban circuses
15. Campaign Quotes
16. Petitions
17. Letters to Editors

01. Happy World Animal Week

ICABS wishes all its friends and supporters a happy World Animal Week. During the week, please support the campaign against blood sports - sign our petition, make a donation, respond to an action alert, join our mailing list, introduce a friend to the campaign. Thank you for whatever effort you can make.

  • Sign our petition - visit and click on Petitions

  • Make a donation or become a supporter - visit and click on Join ICABS

  • Respond to an action alert - Check out the latest editions of our Animal Voice newsletter for current action alerts (Click on Newsletters at )

  • Encourage a friend to join our mailing list so that they can keep up to date with campaign updates and action alerts. Joining our mailing list is easy - simply send a blank email to with "Subscribe" as the subject.

For other ways you can help, click on Join ICABS at

02. Disturbing details emerge about Ward Union deer that dropped dead

More disturbing details have emerged about the deaths of two deer hunted by the Ward Union. As reported previously by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, one deer died after it desperately tried to escape over a wall while another drowned in a quarry.

Documents recently supplied to ICABS include statements from a veterinary surgeon who was present at some of the hunts. His description of two particular incidents provide a sickening account of the fate of the deer.

In a report submitted to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the vet refers to a Ward Union hunt in Scurlogstown in County Meath during the 2006-07 season. He reveals that a deer "died as a result of 'dry drowning' having fallen into a quarry." This shocking incident obviously occurred as the creature was desperately trying to stay ahead of the pack of hounds and Ward Union riders.

The vet mentioned other deer that suffered injuries during the season. Five had "slight lameness" and two had "skin abrasions", he said.

In another report dealing with the 2004-05 season (also recently obtained by ICABS), details are provided about an unfortunate deer that dropped dead after trying to escape over a high wall. The deer was eight years old and was hunted for approximately one and a half hours, according to the document.

What follows is the harrowing account of the deer's final minutes of life...

"At 15.25, the stag approached a walled garden attached to a semi-detached cottage in a cul-de-sac near Ringlestown, Kilmessan, County Meath. At this point the hunstman called off the hounds and effectively ended the hunt, thus allowing the nominated deer handlers to commence the capture of the stag...At this point the stag, which was not being pursued, jumped over a 5 foot in height wall into the cottage garden, following which 3 nominated handlers entered the garden through a side gate. The stag, in full view of two of the handlers then attempted to escape from the garden by attempting unsuccessfully to scale a higher wall (approximately 8-9 feet high) before being captured on his feet by the three nominated handlers...The stag was held for approximately five minutes by the handlers as they waited for the deer cart to arrive, following which he suddenly dropped dead...The cause of death was due to a ruptured aorta."

Incredibly, members of the hunt were praised in the report for lifting the dead deer "in a dignified manner" through the side gate of the garden and into the deer cart.

Please urgently join our appeal to Minister John Gormley to ban this deplorable hunt by refusing a licence.

<<< ACTION ALERT 1 >>>

Please contact Green Party Environment Minister, John Gormley, and appeal to him to stop carted deer hunt cruelty by firmly refusing a licence to the Ward Union.

(Please compose your own personal letter if possible. If you do not have time to do this, please send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Minister John Gormley
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 888 2403.
Fax: 01 878 8640.

Dear Minister Gormley,

I am writing to implore you to refuse a licence to the Ward Union hunt. I am thoroughly disgusted to learn about the injuries sustained by deer during this hunt as well as the deaths of several deer. This appalling blood sport cannot be allowed to continue in modern Ireland.

May I remind you of the Green Party's pre-election pledge to ban blood sports when in government. Please, Minister, don't licence this hunt for another year of animal abuse.

Thank you very much. I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,


<<< ACTION ALERT 2 >>>

Please contact your local TD and Senator and ask them to make an appeal to Minister Gormley on your behalf.

For the names of your TDs, please click on your county on the Irish Government website

Contact your TD at:
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337889 (1890 DEPUTY).

For a list of Senators, please visit the Irish Government website

Contact your Senator at:
Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 732 623 (1890 SEANAD).

03. ICABS videos viewed 1/4 million times

ICABS is delighted to announce that our online video presentations have been collectively viewed over a quarter of a million times. The milestone has been reached during World Animal Week and represents a massive advance in the levels of awareness surrounding blood sport cruelty.

Over the past ten months, viewers from Ireland and around the world have witnessed the suffering inflicted on animals by hunters and coursers. The overwhelming response has not only been one of disgust but also disbelief that such animal abuse continues to be allowed.

Also proving popular on the site are our specially compiled playlists which feature delightful footage of animals living free in nature. We are confident that these will help increase interest in, and respect for, wildlife and lead to even more opposition to activities which deliberately inflict suffering. Among the playlists currently available are Nature in Ireland and Foxes around the world.

To view the videos, please visit or click on Videos at

If you wish to include a video on one of your webpages, simply copy the "Embed" code into your webpage file (this appears to the right of the video).

<<< ACTION ALERT 1 >>>

Please help us to expose the horrendous reality of blood sports to hundreds of thousands more. Highlight our Youtube site ( to as many people as possible:

  • Ask your friends to check it out - if they are already aware of blood sport cruelty, they may instead enjoy our playlists which feature beautiful footage of Irish wildlife.

  • Ask your landowner friends to watch the videos and urge them to make their land off limits to hunters and coursers.

  • Ask your local TDs, Senators, Town Councillors and County Councillors to watch the videos and pledge their support for a ban on blood sports.

  • Ask your local clergy to have a look at the videos and urge them to condemn blood sports and all animal cruelty.

  • Provide a link to the site to your local Gardai. Ask them to establish a special animal crime unit to tackle illegal blood sports such as dog fighting, cockfighting and badger baiting.

  • Highlight the site to your local media and ask them to expose the reality of blood sports.

<<< ACTION ALERT 2 >>>

Include a link to (More details at and on your website. If you have a MySpace or Bebo page, please add us as a friend. Thank you.

04. Bishop advocates mercy towards all creatures

ICABS has welcomed a statement from the Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, in which he advocates "mercy, kindness and love towards all God's creatures". The bishop was responding to an email from ICABS in which we called for the bishops of Ireland to condemn blood sports.

Although Bishop Walsh expressed his view that "such condemnations [by clergy] can be counterproductive", he pointed to the promotion of compassion as being a way forward.

"I believe that preaching mercy, kindness and love towards all God's creatures will be more effective in the long run," Bishop Walsh stated.

"I fully respect your own approach on the matter," he added.

The following is the ICABS appeal to Ireland's Bishops:

Your Excellency,

Earlier this year, we were delighted to learn that the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the US state of New Mexico came out strongly against the cruel blood sport of cockfighting. "The Bishops recognise that cockfighting is abusive of God's good creation and is not a cultural treasure," they stated prior to a ban being implemented. "Cockfighting promotes violence."

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is respectfully asking the Bishops of Ireland to consider following this good example and openly condemning the blood sports which continue in this country. Hare coursing, carted deer hunting, mink hunting and fox hunting are cruel activities which cause horrendous suffering to animals.

They are also contrary to the Catechism which outlines that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly" and "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness."

It would be a great help to our campaign if you could join us in calling for a ban on these inhumane and merciless acts of cruelty against God's creatures.


Please get in touch with your local clergy and ask them to condemn blood sports and/or promote compassion towards all creatures in Ireland. Ask them to have a look at our websites which reveal the reality of blood sport abuse - and

05. Gardai asked to tackle crimes against animals

The Irish Against Blood Sports has appealed to the Gardai to establish a special unit to tackle illegal blood sports like cockfighting, badger baiting and dog fighting. In a letter to Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy, we said that such a unit could greatly alleviate animal cruelty.

"There is much animal suffering in modern Ireland - both from legal and illegal activities," we stated. "The formation of a high profile Garda unit to combat the illegal aspect would be an enormous help in reducing cruelty to animals. Such units have proved very popular with members of the public in other jurisdictions as they facilitate priority reporting of animal-related crimes."

"We would like to see some of the focus of this unit being directed towards illegal blood sports such as cockfighting, badger baiting and dog fighting and also tackling illegal activities such as blooding of greyhounds and the use of unlawful traps and snares," we added.

ICABS hopes that the Gardai will give serious consideration to our appeal during World Animal Week and direct more resources into apprehending those who breach the Protection of Animals Act. Until such a central, animal-specific unit is formed, please report crimes against animals to your local Garda station.


If you have any information about animal cruelty, please contact the Gardai immediately. The phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland can be found at

If you are aware of cruelty to a protected wild animal, please contact your local National Parks and Wildlife Service conservation ranger (phone numbers and email addresses available from the NPWS - or telephone 01-8882000 / LoCall 1890-202021).

Another option is the ISPCA National Cruelty Helpline - 1890 515 515.

Please also notify ICABS for help and advice.

View a Video: Cockfighting -
(Cockfighting cruelty: If you have information about this illegal blood sport or on any other form of unlawful animal abuse, please contact the Gardai immediately.)

06. Tony Gregory questions Minister about blood sport licensing

ICABS Vice-President, Tony Gregory, TD, has questioned Green Party Environment Minister, John Gormley, about the licensing of blood sports in Ireland. For the full text of the question and answer, please see below.

Question 190 - Answered on 27th September, 2007

Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his intentions in relation to the re-issuing of hunt licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Ref No: 21259/07. Written reply.

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Gormley): Applications for hunting licences under the Wildlife Act, 1976, are processed by my Department. Each licence application is dealt with individually and any conservation impact on the particular species is taken into account in line with the provisions of the Act.

The hunting control measures currently in place are sufficient to ensure the conservation of protected species; however I will implement any additional measures as and when required.

My Department recently issued a licence to the Irish Coursing Club allowing most of its affiliated clubs to net hares for the purpose of hare coursing.

One Club (Westmeath United Coursing Club) has been excluded from the netting licence for the 2007/2008 season following a successful prosecution for the illegal netting of hares in 2006. It was also decided to curtail the number of courses allowed by Cappoquin and Dungarvan coursing clubs.

There is no current evidence that coursing has a significant effect on hare populations and my decision to issue this licence took into consideration the final report of the Status of Hares in Ireland Hare Survey of Ireland 2006/07.

My Department is currently in discussions with representatives of the Ward Union Stag Hunt concerning their application for a hunting licence for the coming season. I have raised a number of issues of serious concern with the Ward Union Hunt including in relation to conservation and protection of stags generally and compliance with previous licence conditions. When the discussions with my Department are concluded I will be making my decision on the licence application.

07. Hunters slam Ward Union's abuse of deer

The ICABS video exposing the cruelty of carted deer hunting has attracted lots of feedback from disgusted people in Ireland and around the world. Among the comments are several from hunters who slam the hunting of carted deer as "idiotism", "horrible" and "sick". Please see below for some sample quotes. To view the video, visit

"I'm [a] hunter but this is idiotism. Poor deer."

"I'm an avid big game hunter in B.C. but that doesn't look like fun or fair chase."

"I am pro hunting but this video made me sick. The people who follow this hunt obviously don't care for animals or the countryside. There is no point in hunting a carted stag. If it is a jolly across the countryside you want, then go drag hunting."

"What the heck is wrong with those people - I hunt and that is the most horrible thing that I have ever seen."

"I love all sorts of hunting but please don't paint us all with the same brush as those fool b****rds...It's ass****s like you who give real hunters like myself the negative publicity that we try so hard to avoid!!!"

"There is no sport in this!"

"I'm from Canada and I hunt deer - even to me this is sick s**t."

08. The beauty of Irish wildlife

View a specially compiled collection of Youtube video clips showing the beauty of wildlife in Ireland. Featured is captivating footage of foxes, hares, stoats, otters, seals and birds. If you have wildlife footage you would like to share, please let us know at

09. Competition: Win a book!

To coincide with World Animal Week, ICABS is giving you the chance to win a copy of "Until We Meet Again - God's Eternal Plan for His Animals". Thanks to author, Sevi Regis, we have five copies to give away. To enter, simply email the answer to the following question to along with your name and full address.

Question: World Animal Week coincides with the feast day of which saint? (Clue: The patron saint of animals).

About the book:

"Until We Meet Again is a must read for everyone who loves animals. It's a very unique book filled with heart-warming stories about the life of the author and her many animal encounters." (

"Have you ever wondered if your pet will go to heaven when he/she passes away? Find out for sure in 'Until We Meet Again: God's Eternal Plan For His Animals'. This is a completely unique book that is very uplifting and hopeful, and it presents a look into the Scriptures never before expressed with such clarity and sensitivity." (

10. ICABS responds to Paul Carberry deer claim

Jockey Paul Carberry has claimed in a letter to the Sunday Independent that the deer terrorised by the Ward Union hunt are "wild deer". In a response forwarded to both the Independent and Minister John Gormley, ICABS has dispelled the claim and called for the hunt to be banned. A copy of our letter appears below

ICABS letter to Sunday Independent and Minister John Gormley

In his open letter to Minister John Gormley (Sunday Independent, September 16), jockey Paul Carberry claims that the deer terrorised by the Ward Union are "wild".

They are no more wild than the horses he rides. Bred in captivity since the 1800s, the deer are confined to a wired enclosure, fed by hunt members and transported around in livestock trailers. There is no doubt whatsoever that they are domesticated and therefore protected from unnecessary suffering under current legislation.

The hunt is trying to present their animals as "wild" because they realise that the Wildlife Act, through which they have applied for a hunting licence, deals exclusively with wildlife. Most would strongly dispute the hunt's interpretation of wildness.

Among these are a senior official from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. "I believe the Ward Union Club hunt deer that are not wild animals," he stated in a memo obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports under the Freedom of Information Act.

A Department of Agriculture veterinary inspector echoed this. In a damning 1997 report (suppressed by the government for seven years), Kieran Kane says: "As the red deer herd kept by the Ward Union Hunt has been maintained in captivity for something in the region of 150 years and is augmented regularly by stock from captive herds farmed solely for venison production, it is hard to see how they avoid falling into the category of domestic animal."

The Wildlife Act makes it clear that wild animals are those which "primarily live independent of human husbandry". This definition dispels the Ward Union's wild claims and means that they are ineligible for a licence. Minister Gormley's ending of their despicable blood sport will be widely welcomed by all those who hate to see any animal (fox, hare or deer) being cruelly chased by hounds.

11. Fox in the garden

Click on Latest News at and scroll down to "Fox in the garden" to see a set of photos taken by a County Kildare resident who regularly welcomes foxes in to her garden. The creatures explore the lawn, relax on the patio table and enjoy generous portions of pet food!

Many landowners are happy to see foxes, not only because they are fascinating to watch but due to the fact that they keep down the numbers of so-called pests such as rats and mice.

If you would like to share your photos or video footage of foxes, please send them to us at ICABS, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath or email them to Thank you.

For more information on the Red Fox, including foxwatching advice, photos and podcasts, visit the Foxwatch Ireland website at

12. ICABS blasts "coursing is humane" claim

In a statement issued in September, Fianna Fail TD, Tom McEllistrim, welcomed the licensing of hare coursing and described the blood sport as "thoroughly humane". ICABS has blasted the Kerry TD's remarks as ill-founded and inaccurate.

For more details, please see below for article from The Kingdom newspaper.

Blood sport haters trap Kerry TD in cruelty row
The Kingdom, 27th September, 2007

Furious anti blood sports campaigners have rounded on Kerry TD, Tom McEllistrim, for suggesting that hare coursing is humane.

In a letter to this newspaper, Deputy McEllistrim, welcomed the decision by Environment Minister, John Gormley, to grant a licence to coursing clubs to continue the age-old tradition.

The Fianna Fail TD maintained that coursing was "thoroughly humane" and was particularly popular in North Kerry where hares are very numerous around the countryside.

"Trapping the hares helps to control high densities of the animal which many landowners consider agricultural pests," said Deputy McEllistrim.

"Hare coursing is very much part of life for many people in North Kerry and I'm delighted they can now practice the sport again this year while adhering to the appropriate guidelines," he added.

But the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has described the Kerry TD's remarks as ill-founded and inaccurate.

"Deputy McEllistrim clearly doesn't comprehend the meaning of the word humane," said spokesman Philip Kiernan.

"Either that or he is ignoring the damning evidence logged by staff from the Department of the Environment's National Parks and Wildlife Service division."

Mr Kiernan said wildlife rangers have been recording the horrors of coursing for years and copies of their reports, obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, explicitly convey the cruelty.

He said recorded evidence of recorded cruelty includes:

  • a hare squealing in distress after being caught by a muzzled dog
  • a mauled hare suffering with a badly broken hind leg
  • pregnant hares being forced to run for their lives
  • a hare in agony in a coursing enclosure with its leg almost completely broken off
  • hares dying due to the stress of being snatched from the wild
  • hares dying after being severely mauled by the dogs.

"By no stretch of the imagination could coursing ever be described as humane. Along with foxhunting and carted deer hunting, it's one of the most inhumane and callous acts of animal abuse," Mr Kiernan insisted.

He said the Irish Council Against Blood Sports invites Deputy McEllistrim to view a video presentation at which shows the appalling suffering endured by hares.

"This footage underlines why a majority of Irish people want the government to act to spare the hare the cruelty of coursing," Mr Kiernan added.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports had unsuccessfully appealed to Minister Gormley to firmly refuse to licence coursing clubs and presented him with a number of other options which could eliminate cruelty.

"We brought to his attention the fact that mechanical lure coursing is a perfectly viable option available to the coursers. This humane form of coursing is practised successfully in Australia where live lure coursing is outlawed," Mr Kiernan stated.

He pointed out that the Green Party's stated policy is that when in government it would introduce legislation to end blood sports, but they expressed disappointment that the first Green Party minister didn't completely outlaw the practice of snatching hares from the wild for use as live lures.

"It's a barbaric and outdated activity," said Mr Kiernan.

13. Irish greyhound shot after losing race at Scottish stadium

Hours after Jamiedan Flyer lost a race at Ayr Greyhound Stadium on July 8, he was shot in the head with an air rifle and left for dead in a ditch near Dalrymple, Ayrshire. The howls of the 4-year-old fawn greyhound [born in Ireland on March 15, 2003] were heard by a local couple who found him lying against a tree in a pool of blood. The couple called veterinarian Lorna Lazenby for help, but Jamiedan was so badly injured he had to be euthanized...An unidentified insider at the Ayr stadium told the Scottish Daily Mail, "There had been heavy betting on the dog and a lot of money was lost. There were rumours this was going to happen and everyone at the track was disgusted when we found out what had happened...Several days later, volunteers with Greyhound Rescue Scotland returned to the site and found the remains of a second greyhound lying just a few hundred yards away at the bottom of the same ditch. Rescue volunteer Carol Scott, said, "It looks like this dog had also been taken to this ditch to be killed and that it died the same way. It was found further down and close to a stream, as if it had been crawling to get a drink of water." (Greyhound Network News, Summer 2007)

14. Ask Fingal Co Co to ban circuses

(Source: Captive Animals' Protection Society)

Fingal County Council is meeting on Monday, 8th October, to discuss a possible ban on the use by circuses of council-owned land.

Please express your opposition to the use of animals in circuses by urging the council to support the motion by Councillor Clare Daly.

*** This campaign has now ended. An update will be included in the next edition of Animal Voice. ***

15. Campaign Quotes

"We kill foxes but not all of us do. Initially they claimed it was to keep the population down but now I think they do it because they're just sick f***s." (Jonathan Ross criticising foxhunters during an interview with Beth Ditto, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross - 28 September 2007)

"It was the topic of conversation that caught my ear. Some decrepit little monkey was whinnying about John Gormley's impending decision on the application by the Ward Hunt Union to allow their annual stag hunt. Did they not learn their lesson [in January]? They terrified little nippers by barging into their schoolyard in Kildalkey chasing after a stag with a pack of bloodthirsty hounds in tow. RTE said the Ward Hunt Union referred to their aimless shenanigans as 'very unfortunate'. That was nice of them." (Nonny, - 7th September, 2007)

"We are horrified that licences have been granted for the netting of hares for coursing. We fully support your campaign to bring an end to this barbaric 'sport'." (Rodney Hale MSc, Chairman, Hare Preservation Trust, - 7th September 2007)

"Whether one supports foxhunting or not, the sport is clearly under some pressure. Again, for all it matters to most, a drag hunt would probably suffice. The vast majority of those who follow the hunt never see the fox, except perhaps at the kill and even then only occasionally." (Irish Farmers Monthly - 2007)

"Just as it is always wrong to oppress and abuse less powerful humans, it is always wrong to abuse and oppress animals. Because today's victims of tyranny are unable to speak for themselves, it is up to people of principle to speak out for them. Animals' lives are as important to them as ours are to us. We must stand up for them, as good people from other eras stood up and even risked their own lives in order to defend children from sweatshops and women's right to vote and fought against massacres of entire groups of people and other acts of violence...Every day we have countless opportunities - from what we eat to what we wear - to choose whether to support or oppose injustice. Let's choose not to be a part of cruelty, violence and enslavement - in any of its forms." (Poet, musician and ICABS Supporter, Benajamin Zephaniah, - August 1st, 2007)

"My love for such a gr8 cause xxx" (Message left by 2FM presenter, Nikki Hayes on the ICABS Bebo page - September 2007)

"Thanks for the great work you do!" (Flutist and Composer, Carol Alban in a message left on the ICABS MySpace page at - August 2007)

"Hunting is horrible - I hate it and I am so glad you are doing this." (Singer and actress Dana Varon in a message left on the ICABS MySpace page at - August 2007)

"Foxes are extremely territorial and with most territorial animals and birds a traumatic moment arrives when the parents, who have spent months caring for their young, suddenly turn on them and evict them. It sounded to me as though this was happening to a young dog fox...Foxes are adaptable animals found in practically every habitat type in the country except very marshy ones and some offshore islands. The size of their territory varies, depending firstly on the food it supplies and secondly on the shelter it offers. On a bare mountain they may control 1000 hectares of land while in a leafy suburb the territory may be as small as 20 hectares." (Dick Warner, "Outfoxed: Sounds like a family eviction", Irish Examiner - 17 September 2007)

"The hare coursing season began last weekend and Limerick West Fianna Fail TD John Cregan is urging the Environment Minister to give clubs around the country the official go-ahead to practise the sport...Hare coursing, which is thoroughly humane, is particularly popular in West Limerick." (From a press release issued by Fianna Fail TD, John Cregan - 5th September 2007)

"Many of the farmers' properties that were free to hunt are now out of bounds with high fences and locked gates." (From a report on the Ward Union, submitted by a vet to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The report, dated April 2006, was recently obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act)

"If chasing and torturing animals is how people such as yourself find amusement, you are not well..." (Comment left by Ciara on an page focusing on the chasing of a deer into a school playground during a Ward Union hunt - 4th September 2007)

16. Petitions

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland in 2007 -

Close cruel Mexican market -

The Unbearable Trade in Bear Parts and Bile -

A petition to Save The Whales -

Stop bullfighting in Portugal -

17. Letters to Editors

Netting hares is heartless cruelty
Kilkenny Advertiser, 04 October 2007
by Philip Kiernan/ICABS

Please permit me to respond to the letter from Paul McCarthey (Kilkenny Advertiser, 27/09/2007), who unashamedly admits to being one of the people who roam the countryside frightening hares into nets.

Mr McCarthey presents himself and his coursing cohorts as gentle fellows who "take very special care when catching hares". It's a laughable portrayal of a cruel act that's skewed to the extreme. The fact is that netting, the first in a series of assaults on the hare by coursing clubs, inevitably leaves the creatures suffering.

One disgusted eyewitness described netting as "a noisy affair involving 15 persons with dogs using dustbin lids to create a clatter to panic the hares into the net". There's no doubt that this forceful eviction from their habitats will leave hares with painful cuts and bruises as they frantically try to disentangle themselves and regain their freedom. As serious to the welfare of this timid mammal is the stress caused by netting and coursing.

A vet attached to the Irish Coursing Club has openly admitted that "stress can start from the very minute you get him out of his form until you land him in the net, followed by rough handling, boxing and transporting."

This stress manifests itself in a condition known as capture myopathy. Records show that traumatised Irish hares die as a result of this "shock disease" at all stages of coursing. At one meeting in Wexford, for example, 40 hares perished. A local vet observed that "hares are significantly stressed when corralled and coursed, and this combination of circumstances has resulted in the deaths in this case."

Mr McCarthey's claim that pregnant hares are not caught may be a reference to the flimsy licence granted to the coursers by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. It states that "pregnant hares shall not be taken" but goes on to acknowledge that such hares are indeed being caught, adding that "hares that appear to be pregnant while in captivity may not be coursed".

Despite past claims by coursers that pregnant hares are avoided, ample evidence exists to confirm that it commonly occurs. NPWS rangers who monitor some meetings have documented several instances of pregnant hares not only being captured but giving birth in captivity. One ranger expressed serious reservations about a coursing club which allowed "pregnant hares and hares which had just given birth" to be chased by greyhounds.

Mr McCarthey is fooling nobody but himself if he believes that netting hares and unleashing greyhounds on them is anything but heartless animal cruelty. All who value our precious wildlife heritage look forward to the day when the net closes on the coursers and frees the hare from this awful persecution.

Hunt is cruel
Sunday Times, 23 September 2007
by Philip Kiernan/ICABS

Your editorial [September 9th] claimed that at the end of a Ward Union hunt, the dogs "bay in unison at the deer - and never attack them". Footage of a hunt filmed by us includes scenes where dogs can clearly be seen biting into the hind quarters of a deer. In fact, they are so keen to attack the deer that some of the hunters resort to kicking one of dogs in the head and whipping others to drive them away. Carted deer hunting is a despicable blood sport.

Holidaymakers and bullfighting
SUR in English (The newspaper for Southern Spain)
September 28th - October 4th 2007
by Philip Kiernan/ICABS

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is appealing to holidaymakers in the area to please boycott bullfighting venues.

Unscrupulous tour operators and travel guides will try to lure you into these hellholes by presenting them as centres of art and culture. For the sake of the animals and your own peace of mind, please don't listen to them.

Seeing a cut-up bull stumbling weakly around a bullring with blood spurting from its back and spraying from its mouth and nostrils is sure to leave a dark shadow across holiday memories. In fact, many who venture into bullrings out of curiosity leave in disgust as the animals are mercilessly killed before their eyes.

"I was prepared for the worst but still found it shocking, disgusting and cruel," one such tourist recently reported. "I left after seeing a man horrifically injured and 3 bulls massacred. It should not be allowed to take place in 2007."

Those who want to totally avoid the towns and villages where bullfighting is hosted can download a location list from or view it on their mobile phone at

The Ward Union Hunt - Should it be allowed? No.
North County Leader, 11th September 2007
by Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports

Dozens of men and women on horseback, a pack of 40 howling hounds and one defenceless deer. That's the Ward Union hunt's revolting recipe for "sport".

For over 150 years, this widely condemned group have been getting their kicks from abusing animals. Deer, with their antlers cut off, are driven from the hunt's private deer park in a livestock cart and set up as quarry. According to Department of Agriculture records, some deer are aware of the terror that lays ahead, with one observed showing "body tremors, excessive salivation and panting".

The disorientated animal gets a ten minute head start into the countryside of Meath or North County Dublin before finding the heartless Ward Union cavalry and their hounds closing in from behind.

The creature frantically tries to stay ahead but being in unfamiliar territory, the route is hazardous. Its tongue hangs out and sweat sprays from its body as it crashes through hedges, over walls, across busy public roads and even down village streets. It's a gruelling ordeal which can last for up to three hours and result in cuts, bruises, bites, lameness and exhaustion.

Veterinary documents, obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports under the Freedom of Information Act, have also exposed some of the inevitable fatalities. There was a deer which died of fractured ribs, two deer which died from ruptured aortic aneurisms, a deer which drowned in a quarry and a deer which dropped dead after desperately trying to escape over an 8ft wall.

When the unfortunate animal becomes so depleted that it can run no more, hunt members move in to tackle it to the ground. On at least one occasion this merciless move has led to a deer being "accidentally choked" to death. Dragged along to the hunt cart and returned to the deer park, the deer used will await a future hunt outing when they will again have to endure this appalling abuse.

For far too long, the Ward Union have been flouting the Protection of Animals Act which clearly makes it is an offence to terrorise or cause unnecessary suffering. Their cowardly hunt may have been acceptable in the 1800s but there's no place for it in a modern Ireland where the vast majority of people abhor animal cruelty. All of us eagerly await Minister John Gormley's historic decision to banish this blood sport back into the past where it belongs.

Witness the hunt's abusive treatment of deer at For more information about blood sport cruelty in Ireland, visit the ICABS website at

Drag coursing is the answer to the abuse of hares
Kilkenny Advertiser, 27th September 2007
by John Fitzgerald, Lower Coyne St, Callan

Damien O'Shea writes about the lovely treatment he says the hares receive from the sensitive and caring coursing clubs: worming, vaccination, special training, and even protection by virtue of the greyhounds being muzzled. He says hares are released "in a healthier state" after each coursing event.

Unfortunately, Damien's rose-tinted view of this blood sport is flawed. The abuse of this gentle creature commences from the moment it is snatched from its natural home in the countryside. Many hares become entangled in the nets used to capture them.

These injured animals are worthless from a coursing club's point of view and are therefore killed on the spot or handed over for "blooding", a practice whereby dogs are trained by feeding them live bait.

After netting, hares not injured in the process are held captive in cramped compounds. To them, this is an alien environment, as the hare is a solitary creature that lacks the herd instinct. Many hares die in captivity, from sickness and disease.

The so-called "training" of hares is also against nature, as these are wild animals that normally would not be forced to run in a straight line the way the coursing clubs compel them to do.

Muzzling of greyhounds was supposed to eliminate cruelty from coursing. In practise, it has just rendered it less visible. Prior to muzzling, we had those dramatic tug of war scenes in which hares were pulled asunder by competing dogs. This was "in your face" cruelty.

Now, the hares are mauled or struck by the dogs at coursing events, and instead die from injuries that often may not be visible to the naked human eye. The hare is a brittle boned creature, and any forceful contact with a greyhound, let alone a mauling, effectively signs its death warrant.

Damien tells me I know nothing about coursing. In fact, I have studied the subject very thoroughly, in addition to attending a large number of meetings over the decades. I am especially familiar with the Carlow event to which he kindly invites me.

In the last coursing season, wildlife rangers who attended 23 fixtures witnessed cruelty to hares at every one of these. Some of the hares injured in the so-called "sport" were left to die overnight, instead of being dispatched earlier in the day. Nothing very healthy about that.

I won't be taking up Damien's invitation this year, but I'll make a promise. When the live lure is taken out of this practice, and clubs transfer to drag coursing, I will be delighted to attend the Carlow event or any other coursing fixture. In drag coursing, a mechanical lure replaces the hare.

This sport replicates all the fun and excitement of live coursing without the cruelty. Already it has proven a big success in Australia, where people who once opposed the live version now happily support this humane animal friendly alternative.

With drag coursing, everyone's a winner. No need for muzzles, or wildlife rangers, and no protests.

I suggest that one of the first dogs to see action if and when it sees the light of day in Ireland should be called: "Anti's Choice"!

Tune in to the ICABS Channel

Footage of blood sport cruelty and the humane alternatives can be viewed on the ICABS Channel on Youtube - or by clicking on "Videos" at

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