Animal Voice - November 2007
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
In This Issue:
01. Express your support for a ban on the Ward Union
Please contact Environment Minister, John Gormley, today and appeal to him to stop carted deer hunt cruelty by firmly refusing a licence to the Ward Union. Encourage as many of your friends, family members and workmates to join you in calling for an end to this deplorable hunt.
Email "I support a total ban on the Ward Union carted deer hunt" to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax your message to 01 878 8640. Alternatively, phone in your message of support for a ban to the Minister's office - Tel: 01 888 2403.
Please also 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
For a list of Senators, please visit the Irish Government website
Dear [Deputy] or [Senator],
I am writing to ask you to please spare 30 seconds to view an Irish Council Against Blood Sports video which exposes the cruel activities of the Meath-based Ward Union carted deer hunt. The video can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3f7NYyhDhg
I trust that you will agree that this appalling blood sport has absolutely no place in modern Ireland. Please save deer from the suffering caused by carted deer hunting by joining the widespread calls on Minister John Gormley to ban this hunt.
The leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore, has called on the Environment Minister to withhold a licence from the Ward Union carted deer hunt. Deputy Gilmore reminded the Green Party Minister that "the stags hunted...are farmed domesticated deer."
Please see below for Deputy Gilmore's question along with the reply from Minister Gormley.
Parliamentary Question and Answers
Question 1093 - Answered on 26th September, 2007
Eamon Gilmore: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the fact that the stags hunted by a hunt (details supplied) in County Meath are farmed domesticated deer, and therefore not wild, he will withhold the issuing of a licence in 2007 under the Wildlife Act 1976 permitting stag hunting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ref No: 19828/07. Written Reply.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Gormley): Section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976 provides that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government may grant to the master or other person in charge of a pack of stag hounds, a licence authorising the hunting of deer by that pack, during such period or periods as is or are specified in the licence. I sought and obtained advice from the Attorney General as to the view that this section might not apply to domesticated deer. The Attorney General has confirmed that Section 26 provides for the licensing of hunting for deer by stag hounds irrespective of whether the deer are wild or captive-bred.
I am awaiting further information in relation to a licence application for the coming season and will be making a decision on the matter in the coming weeks.
Use your mp4 player (or mp3 player with video playing capabilities) to help expose the Ward Union deer hunt's abusive treatment of deer. Download our new 30 second video on to your player and play it to your friends, neighbours and workmates. Ask them to join the call on Minister Gormley to ban this deplorable blood sport.
Encourage them to urgently send a protest email to the Minister at email@example.com or phone in a message of support for a ban to his office on 01 888 2403. Thank you.
Ban the Ward Union Deer Hunt - mp4 video
1. Download Now and transfer on to your mp4 player *.
To preview the video, please click on the link below. http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=r3f7NYyhDhg
A Ward Union deer was choked to death in a wood, the Irish Farmers Journal has revealed. The death occurred at the end of a hunt and is one of the fatalities caused by the Ward Union "over the last few years", the newspaper reported.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is trying to establish when this choking incident took place. The Farmers Journal statement that it took place during a recent hunt season may make this the second instance of a deer being choked by the hunt.
The last known choking took place a decade ago during the 1997/98 season. A Department of Agriculture report obtained by ICABS at the time highlighted how a deer was choked to death while being captured by hunt members.
The woodland choking was one of the deer deaths raised during a recent meeting between the Ward Union and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Others mentioned were the hunted deer which died of an aneurysm after being returned to the hunt's deer farm and the deer which died from "dry drowning" after being chased into a quarry.
ICABS Vice-President, Tony Gregory, TD, has reminded Environment Minister, John Gormley, about the cruelty of carted deer hunting. In a Dail speech, Deputy Gregory told the Green Party Minister that it "involves terrifying an animal unnecessarily, which is in breach of the Protection of Animals Act".
The full text of the speech and a reply by Minister Gormley can be seen below.
Hunting Licences - Dail Eireann, 18th October 2007
Deputy Tony Gregory: I thank the Acting Chairman for allowing me to raise this issue. I also thank the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for being present. I understand the Minister is considering a request from the Ward Union hunt for a licence to hunt domesticated deer with packs of hounds. I have a number of concerns which I hope the Minister will consider when making his decision.
I am aware the Attorney General has given the view that because section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976 refers to a licence to hunt deer, this reference alone makes it irrelevant whether the deer are wild or domesticated. However, I wish to draw the Minister's attention to the alternative view that the Wildlife Act 1976 in its entirety, in particular the part which contains section 26, deals exclusively with wild animals and the reference to "deer" is of course intended to refer to wild deer, not farmed, domesticated deer. It is, after all, a Wildlife Act, a point I hope the Minister will accept.
I draw attention to the report of the then Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry's veterinary inspector, Mr. K. W. S. Kane, originally obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, of which I then placed a copy in the Oireachtas Library. Mr. Kane's report states: "As the Red Deer at Green Park are obviously not wild animals it is equally hard to see how they fall into the ambit of the Wildlife Act, 1976 which specifically refers to 'Wildlife' defined therein as meaning 'fauna and flora', the word 'fauna' being further defined as meaning 'wild animals'. " The Department inspector, an expert in his field, also states: "As the Red Deer herd ... [has been] maintained in captivity [by the Ward Union hunt] 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' for the purposes of the Protection of Animals Acts, 1911 and 1965." The inspector's conclusion is as follows: "It could be argued ... that the stags are domestic animals and do not fall within the ambit of the Wildlife Act, 1976 and thus that the hunts contravene the Protection of Animals Acts, 1911 and 1965."
It was for the same reason that in the same year, 1997, the department of agriculture in the North, having taken legal and veterinary advice, decided to regard such deer as domestic animals and hunting them as an act of cruelty. It proceeded to outlaw the practice in the North.
In a Dail reply to me yesterday, the Minister stated the Department has never granted a wildlife dealer's licence to the Ward Union hunt, despite the fact it maintains a large herd of red deer. Surely this is further evidence that we are not dealing with wild animals but farmed, domestic, tame animals. If so, let us examine what happens to them during the hunt. For the sake of accuracy, I will quote directly from the Department inspector's report, where he refers to stags being terrified, apparently distressed and exhausted, and concludes the hunt "must be terrifying and stressful to the animal". My case is that there must be, at the very least, a serious concern that the hunting with packs of hounds of these tame, domesticated deer causes unnecessary suffering to the animals and must therefore be in breach of the Protection of Animals Act 1911. I have been present to monitor the activities of the Ward Union Hunt and witnessed Mr. Bailey, Mr. Ronan and others like them at their entertainment. In terror of the hounds, the deer frantically tries to stay in front of them but, being in unfamiliar territory, the route is hazardous and it crashes through hedges, jumps over walls and ditches, crosses busy roads and even runs down busy streets. It is a gruelling ordeal which can last for up to three hours and result in tears, bruises, bites, lameness and exhaustion.
Veterinary documents obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports under the Freedom of Information Act have exposed some of the fatalities arising from the Ward Union Hunt's activities, including a deer which died as a result of fractured ribs, two deer which died from ruptured aortic aneurysms, a deer which drowned in a quarry and a deer which collapsed and died after desperately trying to escape over an 8 ft. high wall. When the animal becomes so depleted it can no longer run, hunt members move in to tackle it violently to the ground.
I hope the Minister will consider the issues I have raised, as he must clearly recognise that this activity involves terrifying an animal unnecessarily, which is in breach of the Protection of Animals Act.
Deputy John Gormley: I thank Deputy Gregory for raising this matter. Section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, provides that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government may grant to the master or other person in charge of a pack of stag hounds a licence authorising the hunting of deer by that pack during such period as specified in the licence. I know there are different views as to whether activities of the Ward Union Hunt are licensable, given that the deer owned by the hunt are considered domesticated animals. Accordingly, my Department obtained legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General which confirms the previous interpretation of section 26, to the effect that this section provides for the licensing of carted deer hunting irrespective of the status of the deer, wild or captive.
The Ward Union Hunt made an application to my Department in August 2007 for a licence under section 26 for the coming season. My Department wrote to the hunt on 10 September advising that I was considering not granting a licence to the hunt due to serious concerns relating to conservation and the protection of stags generally and failure to comply with previous licence conditions. I am aware that Deputy Gregory has attended hunt meetings as an observer. Officials of my Department then met with representatives of the Ward Union Hunt on 18 September and strong concerns put to the hunt representatives were discussed. Subsequently, the Ward Union Hunt responded by letter of 28 September.
I wish to see a number of issues clarified with the Ward Union Hunt and my Department will write to the hunt shortly. Following a further response from the hunt on these issues, I will be in a position to make a decision on the licence application.
Animal welfare and legal protection of animals from cruelty are the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a comprehensive animal welfare Bill, which will update existing legislation to ensure the welfare of animals is properly protected and penalties for offenders are increased significantly.
Sinn Fein Environment spokesperson, Arthur Morgan, TD has called for a "total ban" on the Ward Union carted deer hunt. In a letter to Minister John Gormley, the Louth Deputy described the hunt as "an abomination" and flagged the danger it poses to members of the public.
"Carted deer hunting is an unnecessary cruelty which causes horrific suffering to defenceless red deer," Deputy Morgan stated. "This blood 'sport' is not just an abomination for the animals involved - it can also pose a danger to members of the public, with terrified deer crashing through hedges, over walls and even across busy public roads to avoid being tortured. As a result the hunt has been condemned not only by animal welfare groups but also by farmers, landowners, motorists, parents and householders."
He went on to remind Minister Gormley about how a comparable hunt was outlawed in Northern Ireland a decade ago.
"A similar hunt in County Down was banned in 1997 when it was ruled that the deer used by that carted deer hunt were domestic animals and thus covered by animal welfare legislation," he outlined. "The Minister should be aware that precedence has been set for banning blood sports on this island."
"The Irish Council Against Blood Sports are campaigning on this issue and they have my full support," Deputy Morgan added. "I look forward to your decision to ban this cruelty."
About Arthur Morgan: Arthur Morgan is Sinn Fein TD for Louth and is party spokesperson on Environment, Local Government and Employment. In the June 1999 European elections, Arthur polled 20,015 first-preference votes in the Leinster constituency. He was elected to Louth County Council in June 1999. He is a member of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission established under the Good Friday Agreement. He is a founding member of Cooley Environmental and Health Action Committee which campaigns against Sellafield and has investigated the high incidence of cancer in the North Louth area.
ICABS is very grateful for Deputy Morgan's support.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has thanked Senator Ivana Bacik for supporting our campaign for a ban on carted deer hunting. "I am asking you to refuse a licence to the Ward Union deer hunt," she stated in a letter to Environment Minister, John Gormley. "The Irish Council Against Blood Sports are mounting a campaign against this, which I support."
Ivana Bacik, LLB, LLM (Lond), BL, FTCD, is the Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin (previously held by Mary Robinson and President Mary McAleese). She is a Senior Lecturer and also a Fellow of Trinity College. A 1989 Trinity Law graduate, she has a Masters from the London School of Economics and practises as a barrister in Dublin.
ICABS is very grateful for Senator Bacik's support.
We are now continuing to urge even more public representatives to demand an end to this appalling blood sport. Please respond urgently to our Action Alert below and ask your local TDs and Senators to join the call for an end to carted deer hunting in Ireland. Send them a link to our 30 second video which exposes what happens during a typical Ward Union outing - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3f7NYyhDhg. Thank you.
ICABS has thanked Fine Gael TD, Terence Flanagan, for becoming the latest politician to appeal for an end to the Ward Union carted deer hunt. "I support the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' call for the Ward Union hunt to be refused a licence," the Dublin North-East TD said in a letter to Minister John Gormley.
ICABS is very grateful for Deputy Flanagan's support. We are continuing to urge even more public representatives to demand an end to this cruel activity.
About Terence Flanagan, TD: Terence Flanagan, TD was elected to the 30th Dail on May 24, 2007. He was appointed Deputy Spokesperson on Environment, with Special Responsibility for Housing in October 2007. As well as being a member of Young Fine Gael, Terence was a campaign worker for Dublin North-Central Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton for many years. He was a member of Dublin City Council, representing the people of the Artane Electoral Area, having been elected in 2004 on his first attempt, securing 2,594 votes.
Please respond urgently to our Action Alert below and ask your local TD to join the call for an end to carted deer hunting in Ireland. Send them a link to our 30 second video which exposes what happens during a typical Ward Union outing - www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3f7NYyhDhg. Thank you.
A Ward Union deer was chased on to a "busy public road" with "many vehicles going in both directions", ICABS was horrified to recently learn. Revealed in a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, it's yet another worrying incident involving the hunt coming on to main roads.
"As the hunt was close to finishing, the stag headed in the direction of Agher Cross, Summerhill, County Meath, where the huntsman, master and followers and some of the hounds were held up in a field surrounded by secure wire fencing." the document says of the incident which, we believe, occurred during the 2004/05 season. "The delay in the hunt's exit from this field, by way of looking for alternative exits and subsequently cutting wire, allowed the stag to continue onwards and away from the hunt along the road, followed by 16 hounds for several minutes."
The report outlines how it was members of the hunt who were following along on the road in a 4 wheel drive who eventually caught up with the fleeing animal.
"As soon as they observed the stag and hounds detached from the main hunt and on the public road, they called off the pursuing hounds and caught the stag with the aid of another nominated deer handler," it states, adding that "despite the busy road, with many vehicles going in both direction, this procedure was carried out with a minimum of fuss."
ICABS can only imagine the terror experienced by this deer as it contended with hounds, hunters and traffic in its desperate effort to escape.
We have brought the incident to the attention of the Road Safety Authority, the Garda Commissioner, the Road Safety Officer of Meath County Council and the Minister for Transport. We are asking all of them to act in the interests of public safety and join the calls on Minister John Gormley to refuse another licence to the Ward Union.
To see other instances of the Ward Union on public roads, click on visit the ICABS Gallery. The inconvenience and potential danger caused to motorists when hunts encroach on to roads can also be witnessed in our Hunts on Roads video presentation - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LXkjTHTbcg
Iarnrod Eireann's Chief Safety and Security Officer has contacted a hunt in Wexford after a newspaper described how hounds chased a fox along a track as a train approached.
The move comes following a letter from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports to Iarnrod Eireann CEO, Richard Fearn in which we highlighted an Irish Field account of what happened.
The February 2006 report, which unfortunately only came to our attention recently stated: "...hounds disturbed another fox who ran in the direction of the Slaney River and then proceeded along the centre of the railway line with the full pack in pursuit. As a train came in his direction he skipped right and went to ground beside the line. Thankfully all the hounds were safely accounted for."
Thanking ICABS for bringing the article to his attention, Mr Fearn expressed regret that as the incident reportedly took place last year, no action could now be taken against the hunt in question.
However, he stressed that the hunt has been contacted by the company.
"My Chief Safety and Security Officer has written a follow-up letter to the hunt concerned highlighting our awareness of the article and advising them of the seriousness with which we will take any future examples of trespass on the railway," he said.
Earlier this year, ICABS welcomed Iarnrod Eireann's announcement that they were to contact all hunts to warn them that those caught trespassing on tracks would be prosecuted. Please help keep hunts off railway tracks by responding to our Action Alert below.
<<< ACTION ALERT >>>
If you witness a hunt trespassing on rail lines, urgently contact Iarnrod Eireann. Try to get photos or video footage as these may prove vital in securing a successful prosecution. After alerting Iarnrod Eireann, please notify ICABS. Thank you.
A County Kerry Councillor has been criticised by ICABS after he called for the urgent elimination of the mink species. Cllr Michael Gleeson said that "it is imperative that an onslaught is commenced on the most unwelcome mink."
For more details, please see below for article from The Kingdom newspaper.
Mink remarks incur wrath of animal lovers
A Kerry politician has come under heavy fire from animal rights activists for his stance on the elimination of mink.
Cllr Michael Gleeson had branded mink as a vicious and unwelcome species that kills in "a wholly wanton manner" and he complained of the destructive nature of the predator creature which he described as a major agricultural menace.
But the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has lashed out at the stance of Cllr Gleeson who is a member of both Kerry County Council and Killarney Town Council.
Spokesman Philip Kiernan said if the Kerry councillor is so concerned then he should take on Ireland's fur farms where mink are gassed to death before having the fur "tugged from their bones".
"Cllr Gleeson appears to have a problem with mink because they are predators which are compelled to eat to survive. He particularly criticises them for killing more than they need," Mr Kieran observed.
"This anthropomorphic view is unfair to a creature acting purely on instinct and not out of any kind of malice. Many species, including humans, are guilty of overeating and stockpiling food for future use. This doesn't deem them deserving of a death sentence," said Mr Kiernan.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports official added: "wild predators who engage in surplus killing are not greedy gluttons but merely adhering to the laws of nature. Ecologists believe that if a mink happens to find itself presented with an abundance of birds, it will take more than it needs in an effort to reduce the population to a more natural balance."
Furthermore, Mr Kiernan maintained that Cllr Gleeson's portrayal of mink as major agricultural menaces is not based on fact.
"Few farmers keep poultry nowadays and the impenetrable factory farms of battery birds are unlikely to be bothered by a mink looking for an easy meal," he said.
Urging Cllr Gleeson to turn his attention to fur farms, the animal rights activist remarked: "It is these depraved hellholes that are responsible for mink coming to be part of our ecosystems."
Visit the ICABS Gallery page and choose "Fox Gallery" to view a set of fantastic fox photos taken by Muriel Hayden of Cuddles Cattery. The fox was a regular visitor to the County Galway cattery throughout the summer and was treated to daily dishes of cat food. "The cats were curious about him and we all loved to watch him," Muriel told ICABS.
"I was very fortunate and felt privileged to have had the company of Basil this summer," she said. "He frequented my garden more or less daily for a couple of months. I run a boarding cattery and always have leftover cat food, which Basil seemed to enjoy. He would follow me up and down the cattery (from outside) as I worked and when I was in the garden he acted very like a dog, wrapping himself around my legs sometimes."
Although Muriel is sad to add that Basil stopped coming around at the end of August and hasn't been seen since, she relishes the memories of this fascinating fox. Check out her photos below.
Visit the Cuddles Cattery (www.cuddlescattery.ie/index.html) for more details about their 5-Star Cat Hotel.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The city of Montignac has become the third French city to declare itself anti-bullfighting.
"We have the great joy of announcing that members of the Municipal Council of Montignac have voted in favour of a motion calling for the abolition of bullfighting in France," announced Patricia Zaradny, the President of Comite Radicalement Anti Corrida (www.anticorrida.com).
Montignac [in the Dordogne region of France] is world famous for its Lascaux Cave which features 13,000-year-old cave paintings. Among the most spectacular are those in its "Room of the Bulls". ICABS has written a letter of congratulations to the mayor.
<<< ACTION ALERT >>>
Post a letter of thanks and congratulations to the mayor at:
M. Paul Azoulay
"It is with regret that the club has to inform you that, as of today 26-10-07 the Minister for the Environment John Gormley still has not granted us a licence to hunt deer for the coming season (which should have commenced today)." (From a letter of appeal sent from the Ward Union Hunt Committee to Irish politicians - 26th October, 2007).
"Leaks from the Department of the Environment during the week indicated that the Minister would refuse the [Ward Union] hunt a licence for the forthcoming season. However, on Thursday Minister Gormley announced that he was deferring a decision on the licence pending receipt of information from the hunt. He said that he had 'serious concerns' about granting a licence." (Irish Field, 8th September 2007)
"There are reports of strains within the Irish Master of Foxhounds Association. The chairman for the past 10 years, Kate Horgan, also joint-master of the Duhallow Foxhounds, stepped down this week and has been replaced by George Chapman, master of the Island Foxhounds. There had been speculation for several weeks about Horgan continuing in her post. She said, prior to the meeting of elected officers on September 5, that she was considering her position. 'There are people who want to get me out,' she said. She has declined to make any further comment." (Irish Field, 8th September 2007)
"Mr [Paul] Carberry may be an Irish racing icon, but his waffling romanticised depiction of stag hunting is an assault on reality. He defends it as a delightfully humane pastime, one that is vital to the success of our horse racing and equestrian industries. The Ward Union Hunt could easily switch to drag hunting, in which a false scent is laid for the hounds to follow, and still provide an exciting day out for riders and hunt followers. The horses would still jump ditches; the hunters could dress the same, blow their horns as loudly and shout Tally-ho. The only difference would be that a majestic and defenceless creature wasn't hounded for kicks." (John Fitzgerald, Letters to the Editor, Irish Independent - 24th September 2007)
"Many of the farmers aren't in the hunt. Many of the people in the hunt don't own any land. In the past, when fences got damaged by the hunt, the farmer might get off his horse and fix it himself. Or he might return the next day to fix it. Or the hunt would send a guy around with a few posts and a roll of wire to plug the gap. Nowadays, the hunters take the countryside for granted. At the IFA meeting, one farmer told me about an unreported gap in a fence that cost his insurance company 10,000 Euro. Cattle broke through and trampled crops in the next field." (From Blog an Seanchai, a blog on blogspot.com - January 5, 2007)
Tune in to the ICABS Channel
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