Animal Voice: Issue 11 2009 [September/October]
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports
In This Issue:
01. GORMLEY GRANTS HARE NET LICENCE
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports roundly condemns the decision made by Environment Minister John Gormley to grant yet another licence to capture hares from the wild for use as live lures for greyhounds in the cruel and primitive "sport" of hare coursing.
We are astounded that a "GREEN" Minister would issue such a licence, not only because of the inherent animal cruelty but also due to the fact that hares in the wild are in decline. Last year Minister Gormley himself issued a report on the Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland, which rated the conservation status of the Irish hare as "POOR" with reasons gives as loss of habitat, increased urbanisation and hunting. This decline continues, as a recent survey published in Northern Ireland shows, and in response to that decline all hare hunting across the border has been suspended for the last five years, with Edwin Poots, NI Environment Minister last week extending that protection for yet another year.
It is absolutely incredible that while our Northern Ireland neighbours are taking measures to protect the hare population, our "GREEN" Minister is recklessly allowing the exploitation of our vulnerable hares by coursers and other assorted hare hunters. He should have acted in concert with our close neighbours to protect the hare as part of an All-Ireland plan, and placed a temporary ban as they have done.
By issuing this licence, Minister John Gormley has disregarded the issue of cruelty. Every coursing season, hares are injured and killed by greyhounds at coursing meetings and last year was no exception, as reports obtained by ICABS under FOI revealed. For example, at Enniscorthy - 7 hares were mauled by dogs, with six dying of their injuries; Ballyheighue, Co. Kerry - 6 hares hit and 4 killed; Gorey -11 hares hit, 7 injured and 5 put down because of injuries; Doon - 11 hares hit, 4 died from injuries, and so the catalogue of cruelty continues, year on year, as we approach 2010 in a so-called civilised country!
Please express your disappointment at Minister Gormley's decision to licence another season of coursing cruelty.
Minister John Gormley
Dear Minister Gormley,
I am extremely disappointed at your granting of a licence to the Irish Coursing Club for a cruel activity which the majority of Irish people want outlawed.
Facilitating a blood sport in this way is counter to the Irish Green Party's stated opposition to the exploitation of animals and fundamentally in breach of international Green Party principles on activities involving animal cruelty. It is also totally at odds with Section 7 of the Irish Green Party's Animal Welfare Policy which was passed by your National Council in 2005
Based on conservation grounds, you had very good reasons to refuse this licence. Due to concern for the future of the Irish Hare species, your counterpart in Northern Ireland recently announced an extension to an already 5-year-old order protecting hares from hunting and coursing.
I do not accept your assertion that "there is no current evidence that coursing has a significant effect on hare populations". Coursing is responsible for massive interference with the species (including disturbance of pregnant hares, nursing mothers and leverets) and depletes vulnerable population pockets which cumulatively can lead to extinction. The "Status Of EU Protected Habitats And Species In Ireland" report which you published last year makes it clear that the overall conservation status of the Irish Hare is "poor" and that "factors likely to reduce hare numbers locally include...hunting". Why have you, as Minister responsible for protecting this species, ignored this?
I look forward to your response.
[Name and location]
Green Party leader John Gormley ignored an appeal from an RSPCA Vice-President to stop licensing hare coursing. In a 14 September letter, Dr Caroline Lucas - who is also a Green Party MEP for South East England - urged Minister Gormley to "carefully consider the detrimental effect of hare coursing with regard to conservation and animal cruelty."
Dr Lucas condemned the use of hares in the activity, saying that "a practice which relies on large numbers of hares being captured, many of them pregnant and forced to give birth in captivity, to then be pursued by dogs, possibly pummelled to the ground or to die on release back into the wild cannot possibly be classed as a sport."
In a direct appeal to the Green Party leader, she stated: "I would urge you to do your utmost to continue pressing for an end to such blood sports in Ireland and, in the meantime, to refuse to renew any hare coursing licences for this coming season."
John Gormley ignored this plea, as well as countless others from Ireland and around the world, and issued a licence to the Irish Coursing Club for the 2009-10 season. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has condemned his decision.
ICABS thanks Dr Lucas for supporting our ongoing campaign against this cruel activity. Please see below for more information about this award-winning champion for animals.
About Caroline Lucas: A Vice-President of the RSPCA, Dr Caroline Lucas is widely respected as one of the European Parliament's most active animal welfare campaigners. In 2007, she was voted Politician of the Year by Observer readers in their annual Ethical Awards and in 2008 was judged one of the Guardian's top "eco-heroes". Find out more at: www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk
The Sunday Independent has reported that Green Party leader and Environment Minister, John Gormley, may be trying to secure an "eventual abolition of hare coursing" as part of discussions with Fianna Fail over continued support.
The newspaper outlined that Minister Gormley's recent renewal of a coursing licence was done "with a heavy heart" and that it is believed that he may now be endeavouring to secure a ban.
"Fianna Fail and the Greens are negotiating a compromise over Nama -- the largest, most controversial fiscal outlay in the history of the State," the report stated. "The Sunday Independent has learned that a large group of FF back-benchers now believe that one of the key prices Greens' leader John Gormley will attempt to extract from Taoiseach Brian Cowen for his party's continued support is the eventual abolition of hare coursing."
The Sunday Independent report appears below...
Please send the following message to both Minister John Gormley and Taoiseach Brian Cowen: "I am one of the Irish majority who wants an urgent ban on hare coursing. Please act now to end this cruel blood sport"
Minister John Gormley
An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen
Please also contact your local TDs/Senators and urge them to support your calls for a ban on coursing and other blood sports. Encourage them to contact Minister Gormley and Taoiseach Brian Cowen to express their backing for a ban.
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 the names and contact details of politicians, please visit the Irish Government Website at: www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist
TDs plan to block any bloodsports ban
Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set on a collision course over the belief held by significant elements of the senior government party that their Green colleagues are "plotting'' to use the new Programme for Government negotiations to abolish blood-sports such as hare coursing.
Fianna Fail and the Greens are negotiating a compromise over Nama -- the largest, most controversial fiscal outlay in the history of the State.
However, the Sunday Independent has learned that a large group of FF back-benchers now believe that one of the key prices Greens' leader John Gormley will attempt to extract from Taoiseach Brian Cowen for his party's continued support is the eventual abolition of hare coursing.
Last week, the Environment Minister signed an order allowing coursing clubs to net hares for the forthcoming season. However, Mr Gormley made it clear that he had made the decision with a heavy heart.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Fianna Fail back-bench TD Ned O'Keeffe warned the Greens that any attempt to abolish "rural pursuits'' such as hare coursing "by stealth'' will be "vigorously resisted''.
Please demand an end to licences for cruel carted deer hunting. Email the following message to Minister John Gormley:
"Dear Minister Gormley: I am writing to urge you to refuse a licence to the Ward Union carted deerhunt. Licensing this cruel blood sport, as you have done for the past two seasons, is counter to the Irish Green Party's stated opposition to the exploitation of animals and fundamentally in breach of international Green Party principles on activities involving animal cruelty. It is also totally at odds with Section 7 of the Irish Green Party's Animal Welfare Policy which was passed by your National Council in 2005. This states that 'when in government, the Green Party will introduce legislation to end blood sports' and that 'the Party encourages the alternatives of drag hunting and drag coursing'."
Minister John Gormley
Watch our "Ban the Ward Union Deer Hunt" campaign video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3f7NYyhDhg
In a letter of complaint to Fianna Fail's Head Office, ICABS has condemned a pro-coursing comment from Cork East TD, Ned O'Keeffe. The politician openly expressed support for the blood sport in the Sunday Independent and said any attempt by the Green Party to ban it would be resisted. "Defending animal cruelty is shameful and unacceptable," we told Fianna Fail.
Please join our appeal to Fianna Fail to act on the Irish public's desire to see coursing and other blood sports banned.
Fianna Fail Head Office
I am writing to express my objection to Fianna Fail TD, Ned O'Keeffe's pro-coursing comments in the Sunday Independent of September 20 2009. Mr O'Keeffe said that any attempt to abolish hare coursing would be "vigorously resisted".
I find it offensive that a politician from your party would defend this animal cruelty. Hares are one of Ireland's favourite mammals and they should be protected from this deplorable activity.
I hope that Fianna Fail will act on the wishes of the majority of Irish people who want coursing outlawed. Thank you. I eagerly await your response.
[Name and location]
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has thanked Vodafone Ireland for stopping the broadcasting of its "Roaming" advert at Dublin Airport. The move came following a complaint from ICABS over a bullring scene in the ad.
In a letter to the company's CEO, Charles Butterworth, ICABS appealed for the advert to be modified to exclude the bullring scene. "Matadors, like the one in the Vodafone ad, are responsible for the slow torture to death of thousands of bulls every year," we told Mr Butterworth. "Each bullfight event sees the merciless killing of six or more bulls. Horseback riders firstly weaken the bull by stabbing its body with sharp lances. To force it to drop its head, spears are then driven into its neck muscles. The cruelty culminates with a stabbing through the heart with a sword."
Responding, a spokesperson for Vodafone Ireland stated that the advert had been withdrawn last year as a result of an appeal from ICABS but that it had mistakenly been aired on two screens at Dublin Airport.
"Upon receipt of your letter, we immediately requested that the advert be removed and it ceased to be shown that same day," he said. "Vodafone does not support or promote blood sports and we were disappointed to hear of this error."
ICABS thanks Vodafone Ireland for this positive response.
Please get in touch with the National Parks and Wildlife Service if you have information on breaches of the Wildlife Act 1976, the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 or the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. Contact phone numbers for NPWS offices around Ireland can be viewed at www.scribd.com/doc/19770538
Please contact ICABS if you require names/email addresses for rangers in your area.
More information about the NPWS at www.npws.ie/en/AboutUs
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on the publishers of a Tom and Jerry colouring book to remove an illustration of "Bullfighter Tom". The portrayal of the popular cartoon character as a bullfighter [animal torturer and killer] has been reported to Warner Brothers. Please support our action alert now.
Please send the following message to Alligator Books and Warner Brothers "Please stop portraying Tom and Jerry's Tom as a bullfighter in the Tom and Jerry Jumbo Colouring Book [Published by Alligator Books]. Trivialising bullfighting in a children's book is distasteful and offensive."
Alligator Books Limited
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
The Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland has announced a proposal to continue giving full protection to Irish Hares in the North until at least August 2010. ICABS has called on Minister John Gormley to follow the example of Minister Edwin Poots and give similar protection to hares in the Republic.
The full text of the statement follows:
Department Of The Environment (Northern Ireland)
Minister extends measures to protect Irish Hare
Environment Minister Edwin Poots, is proposing to renew the temporary ban on the killing, taking, sale or purchase of Irish Hares.
The proposal is to introduce a special protection order under the Game Preservation Act (NI) 1928, for the period 1 December 2009 to 11 August 2010, which includes the 'close season' for hunting hares.
Recent results from the 2009 Northern Ireland Irish hare survey have shown that there are approximately 27,400 hares in Northern Ireland .
Speaking today the Minister said: "The conservation mechanisms that my Department has put in place are bearing fruit and the number of Irish Hares is being sustained.
"However, until all data from the surveys undertaken so far can be analysed in 2010, I believe that there is a need for continued temporary protection. Therefore I am proposing that a new Special Protection Order should be made."
Please download our "Help the Hares" action alert image on to your mobile phone and forward to your friends by MMS or email. Sending the image will help bring this important action alert to an even wider audience. Note: Check with your mobile phone operator for internet access/MMS/email charges.
Dimensions: 240x320. File Size: 34kb
How to download: Access the 'Internet', 'Web' or 'Services' menu on your phone or wireless device and input this URL www.tinyurl.com/helpthehares Save image to your phone, open image and forward to your friends. Thank you.
The School of Compassion - A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals
In The School of Compassion Deborah M Jones engages with the Catholic Church's contemporary attitude towards animals. This is the fullest sustained study of the subject in that faith tradition. More details at http://www.scribd.com/doc/18593489
Publication August 2009. 978 0 85244 731 4. 256 pages. £14.99.
About the author: Deborah M Jones is general secretary of the international organisation Catholic Concern for Animals and a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, with a doctorate in animal theology. She has also worked as editor of the Catholic Herald, deputy editor of Priests & People, as a writer and lecturer, and diocesan adviser for adult religious education.
Praise for The School of Compassion: "The joy of this book is that it helps Catholic Christians to re-engage with the issue of animals by utilising the riches from within their own tradition…And what Dr Deborah Jones has discovered is a remarkably more complex, infinitely richer, and considerably more animal-friendly Catholic tradition than might be supposed by the usual caricatures. This book is the fullest systematic treatment of the moral status of animals within the Roman Catholic tradition. It is the result of painstaking scholarship, wide reading, and, most of all, insightful theological exploration." (Revd Professor Andrew Linzey)
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has learned that Martin Ferris, TD has given coursers, foxhunters and deerhunters a guarantee that he will get a Sinn Fein motion to ban blood sports overturned. The motion, calling for "a total ban on all blood sports, including hare coursing and fox hunting" was passed at Sinn Fein's 2009 Ardfheis after delegates voted in its favour.
Mr Ferris's determination to thwart this democratic process was revealed in a recent edition of greyhound journal, the 'Sporting Press', and more recently at a meeting of the Hunting Association of Ireland (representing foxhunters, hare hunters and deer hunters). At the meeting held in Cork in recent weeks, "Martin Ferris TD assured the meeting of his unequivocal support for hunting and all other field sports and of his intention to gain party support likewise." (source Hunting Association of Ireland website).
Meanwhile, in the Sporting Press article, it was reported that D.J. Histon, the head of the ICC, announced at a provincial meeting that they had "recently met with Martin Ferris of Sinn Fein in relation to the motion to ban blood sports" and that "Mr. Ferris had given a guarantee that he would get the motion overturned at the next Ard Fheis."
The motion was presented by Ogra Sinn Fein at the party's Ard Fheis earlier this year. A separate motion claiming that coursing is not a blood sport was rejected.
ICABS is stunned by Martin Ferris's arrogance and apparent disregard for the views of the majority of Sinn Fein members who expressed their support for a bloodsports ban.
ICABS has made Deputy Ferris aware that coursing results in injury and/or death to hares at all stages - the violent capture from the wild in nets, the stress of being manhandled and transported in boxes, the unnatural confinement in coursing compounds and the maulings by greyhounds. Some years ago, Martin Ferris attended an ICABS information meeting in Dail Eireann, where he was shown video footage of a fox being dug out and torn apart by hounds, deer being hounded and hares being severely mauled. At that meeting, he expressed his opposition to fox hunting, but said that he didn't consider hare coursing to be a "blood sport".
Meanwhile, we call on the Minister for Environment, John Gormley, not to renew the licence to net hares for coursing for the coursing season which begins at the end of September. Mr. Gormley has strong conservation reasons not to grant this licence, as the hare population is in decline, and this decline continues as a recent survey published in Northern Ireland shows, and in response to that decline, all hare hunting across the border has been suspended for the last five years, while down south, our Green Minister turns a blind eye to the problem, and allows our precious hare population to be recklessly exploited by the coursers and other assorted hare hunters.
Every coursing season, hares continue to be injured and killed by greyhounds at coursing meetings and last year was no exception, as reports obtained by ICABS under FOI revealed. For example, at Enniscorthy - 7 hares were mauled by dogs, with six dying of their injuries; Ballyheighue, Co. Kerry - 6 hares hit and 4 killed; Gorey -11 hares hit, 7 injured and 5 put down because of injuries; Doon - 11 hares hit, 4 died from injuries, and so the catalogue of cruelty continues, year on year, as we approach 2010 in a so-called civilised country!
It's time for Minister John Gormley to live up to his Green credentials and move to give the hare the protection it so desperately needs. He should stand up to Brian Cowen and his pro-coursing Fianna Fail buddies and call time on this barbarism
Help highlight our campaigns against blood sports. Place an ICABS link, banner or widget on your website today.
The current range and display codes can be viewed at www.banbloodsports.com/link2us.htm
NEW: ICABS Twitter Feeder widget!
Lost or found a pet? Ceck out this Irish website:
"Lost and Found Pets Ireland is Ireland's only site dedicated to Irish lost and found pets. Our mission is simple. We aim to make reuniting lost Irish pets with their owners as quick and easy as possible. On www.lostandfoundpets.ie you can: Post free lost or found pet listing. Share that listing with friends and colleagues easily using your favourite social networking site. Print and distribute a free customised lost or found pet poster based on your listing."
The Irish Independent has reported that pet owners in Cobh, County Cork are offering a reward for information which leads to the prosecution of sick thugs who are torturing and killing cats in the area.
"The gang -- who are suspected to be operating in the Cobh area of Cork harbour -- are believed to be responsible for a series of gruesome attacks over recent weeks on pets, particularly cats. In one case, a cat was crucified and it is also suspected that cats have been savaged to death by fighting dogs," Louise Hogan outlined in her July 14 2009 report. "Evidence that cats are being deliberated targeted came from a number of felines who managed to make it back to their owners with fractured paws and legs -- indicating that an attempt had been made to capture them."
Locals are being asked to report any suspicious activity to Gardai or to pass on relevant information to firstname.lastname@example.org
"Hounds had to be stopped there as light was just beginning to fade and there was a large number of in-lamb ewes some distance ahead...The excellence of the breakfast had been more than matched by the day's hunting, hounds having run hard on the last fox for some four miles with a point of some two and a half miles." (Killultagh, Old Rock and Chichester Harriers hunt report 2008/2009 season. Countryside Alliance, Emerald Newsletter - April 2009)
"Hounds were put to the first draw behind Reaghstown Chapel and immediately had a strong fox afoot to give a fast hunt which lasted some forty minutes...The second draw at Rachlesson saw a second fox leave the covert and cross the main Ardee to Derry at Betty Taffe's. He swung left handed, again pushed hard by hounds before being lost in heavy slurry at Philipstown...A return to Rachlesson dislodged another fox which provided a fifteen minute hunt in fading scent. He ran towards the main road, was marked to ground and given best." (Louth Foxhounds hunt report 2008/2009 season - Countryside Alliance, Emerald Newsletter - April 2009)
"Hounds positively screamed at this point, on what appeared to be the strongest scent of the day and pushed their fox hard only for him to eventually go to ground at the far side of Ballyatwood where he was accounted for...At the Fruit Farm, after some patient drawing, hounds found their second fox. Hounds remained in good voice and fairly rattled him around the farm, pushing him hard back as Ballyatwood where he was lost, in now distinctly weaker scenting conditions." (North Down Foxhounds hunt report 2008/2009 season - Countryside Alliance, Emerald Newsletter - April 2009)
"I'd support a ban on hare coursing even if there was no decline in numbers - simply to piss off the weird freaks who get a sick thrill from hunting down and killing them." (From an anti-coursing comment on politics.ie, July 2009)
"Our club is outraged at this book Bad Hare Days. It could do untold damage to coursing if enough misguided readers pick it up who don't understand the real point of coursing. We are having a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss this terrible attempt to represent a wonderful outdoor sport as something nasty and cruel...These people who say coursing should be banned are the same kind of cranks that succeeded in getting cockfighting banned, and badger sporting. They have to be resisted by every means open to us...Don't be afraid to advise anyone you know not to buy it. Every sale will just boost the egos of animal rights people and encourage them to keep going…" Quote from "Proud Coursing Fan", displayed on the website of John Fitzgerald, author of Bad Hare Days.
"We Are Against...Exploitation of animals." (Extract from the Irish Green Party's profile on europeangreens.org)
"We support you 100% on this [campaign against hare coursing in Ireland]" Rodney Hale, Chairman, Hare Preservation Trust www.hare-preservation-trust.co.uk - 20 August 2009
"Maureen O'Sullivan, TD said one of the major regrets of the late Tony Gregory was that more hadn't been done for animal rights in his lifetime. She had always shared his views on animal rights, she said, and hoped to continue his work against coursing. 'It is absolutely vicious, I couldn't look at the video footage of coursing, how people call that a sport, I do not know,' Ms O'Sullivan said." Irish Times, August 14, 2009
"Aideen Yourell, spokeswoman for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, said there has been a five-year ban on coursing in the North because of declining numbers of hares, but Mr Gormley had turned a blind eye to the problem. 'It's time for Minister John Gormley to live up to his Green credentials and move to give the hare the protection it so desperately needs,' she said. 'He should stand up to Brian Cowen and his pro-coursing Fianna Fáil buddies and call time on this barbarism.'" Irish Times, August 14, 2009
"John Carmody, founder of ARAN, said Mr Gormley had infuriated many of his own party members by issuing licences last year. 'He is flying directly in the face of the membership of the Green Party,' he said." Irish Times, August 14, 2009
"Minister John Gormley - You've Got Blood on Your Hands" (From an Animal Rights Action Network placard displayed at the August 13th anti-coursing protest outside the Department of the Environment, Dublin. Minister Gormley has licensed cruel coursing despite his party's opposition to animal cruelty and a pre-election promise to end blood sports when in government)
"In his response, Mr Hanifin asserts that your party [the Green Party] remains committed to the abolition of blood sports in Ireland and 'will continue to strive' to secure their end. Clearly, a good place to start would be to cease licensing these barbaric practices. Anything less would result in further damage to the Green Party's credibility on this and, by association, other issues. I hope that the faith which I formerly had in the Green Party was not completely misplaced and that, when the hare coursing licence comes up for renewal, you will honour one of the main principles for which you were elected and decline to renew the licence." (extract from an email sent by an ICABS supporter to Minister John Gormley, August 2009)
"When the Greens entered Government some things were expected of them and a focus on the rights of animals to be protected from unnecessary cruelty was one of them. They've failed to deliver even on that simple issue." (from a comment on www.politics.ie August 2009)
"The congregation of 50 hunt followers [in Kilmore Church, one of the exhibits at the Ulster Folk Museum] enthusiastically sang versions of 'All Things Bright & Beautiful' and 'Forth in Thy Name O Lord I Go' specially adapted by the rector's wife to reflect the joys of beagling...Meanwhile the hounds, corralled outside the church door, were entertaining early visitors to the museum and being supervised by one of the Museum's helpful curators, so that the huntsman was able to attend the service. At the conclusion of the service the congregation gathered around the hounds while they were blessed." From a report on the Sunnyland Beagles in Irish Country Sports & Country Life Magazine - Spring 2009)
"After two years in Government it's amazing that John Gormley has not moved to have coursing banned...If John Gormley rubber stamps another coursing season I hope he resigns as Green Party leader, because his credibility as a Green will be one below zero." Hewson, August 2009 - comment on www.politics.ie
"The Greens would have the support of rural Ireland if they dared tackle animal cruelty and hunting." Kensington, August 2009 - comment on www.politics.ie
"Believe it or not, the Lurcher is a bit of a couch potato, simply requiring lots of love, a warm bed, adequate food, the minimum of one long walk a day and no more veterinary supervision than any other breed of family dog. They also need little grooming; benefiting from one good brushing a week. This is due to their fine, single layer, resulting in a minimum of fur loss; making them perfect for those house-proud animal lovers among you. Another plus for the Lurcher is they are clean and, once fed a recommended diet, omit very little odour. Now that's something you can't say about many humans! So, if you're thinking of adopting a companion pet, why not consider a Lurcher…you'd be barking mad not to!" (From We love lurchers and they love us, Irish Independent, September 24 2009)
If only we could ask the hare
D.J. Histon, CEO of the Irish Coursing Club, writes to set the record straight on hare coursing (Letters, September 24).
He does nothing of the sort. The fact remains that hare coursing is cruel and uncivilised.
It is disturbing that the word "sport" is mentioned four times in the letter. It is nothing of the kind. It is a barbaric practice fit for the Dark Ages.
Some of the language used in the letter is astonishing -- "given a 100-yard advantage", "hares are harvested".
As to the suggestion that an unregulated form of the "sport" would lead to illegal hunting and unmanaged preserves, two fallacious arguments put together don't make a sound argument.
I am sure the hare would prefer unmanaged preserves over a 100-yard advantage.
Hare coursing is simply cruel
As an opponent of live hare coursing, I am encouraged by the fact that the licence permitting the annual widespread netting of hares in our countryside has not yet been granted to the hare baiting clubs.
In past years, the licence was issued by the Environment Minister in August, the reason being that coursing clubs needed about a month to both capture enough hares for the first baiting fixtures of the season in late September and to "train" the hares, as they call it, for these events.
I hope this delay in granting the netting licence reflects a change of heart on the part of the Department of the Environment and a timely recognition by the minister, John Gormley, that Ireland's hare population is under grave threat
At a time when the Irish hare's conservation status is officially deemed "poor" by the State's Wildlife Service, it is surely inconceivable that the minister would even contemplate allowing gangs of animal cruelty fans to scour the countryside in search of hares as live bait for coursing.
With the species under severe pressure from loss of habitat, resulting from urbanisation and aggressive agricultural methods, it can certainly do without the additional threat posed by the net men and coursing clubs.
Hare coursing is shameful. Every animal welfare association in the world opposes it, as does, according to every opinion poll, the vast majority of the Irish people. Now is the time for Mr Gormley to pull the plug on this pathetic excuse for a sport.
Such a move would be welcomed by the Green movement worldwide, and represent an act of mercy towards one of the gentlest creatures on earth.
John Fitzgerald Callan, Co Kilkenny
Sir, On the Dublin Horse Show edition of RTE's Nationwide programme, a foxhunter was given the opportunity to claim to the nation that his horrendous blood sport is "marvellous" and actually "misunderstood" by Irish people.
"I have seen it portrayed as being vicious; a pack of hounds chasing and killing a poor innocent fox," the Ballymacad Foxhounds spokesperson declared before going on to express his belief that if viewers followed a hunt for a day and "kept a broad and open mind about it", their opinions would surely change.
To allow this man to stand in front of a camera and spout such nonsense, Nationwide must have missed a very disturbing report which appeared earlier this year in hardcore hunting magazine Earth Dog, Running Dog.
In it, the sickening cruelty to foxes during a Ballymacad hunt was explicitly illustrated. We were told of one particular fox that was "hunted hard" for half an hour by hounds that were "really pushing him". When this terrified creature found refuge underground, the hunt's terrierman was summoned to carry out what was described as a "nice little dig". Nets were placed around the exits to the hole and a terrier was sent in to violently confront the cornered creature. It attacked for 15 minutes until the fox came running out "like a runaway train" to meet its death.
During the same hunt, hounds pushed a vixen into a "tight spot under a stone wall". When escape routes were again blocked, another terrier was sent in and savaged her to death.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on Nationwide to stop giving hunters a platform to misportray this despicable cruelty.
I would like to support the call for a cull on the seal population in Dublin Bay. I understand some seals are terrorising swimmers. In addition, I suggest we also put down dogs that bark at night, roosters that crow too early in the morning and the flock of sparrows outside my bedroom window. Once we've tidied that up, we can get around to culling ignorance, arrogance and selfishness.
Declan Kenny Leixlip, Co Kildare
Bull running sparks debate
The recent description by Gerry Ryan of Pamplona's bull-running festival as "just fantastic" is unlikely to be echoed by those carried away paralysed after being drawn to the event by romanticised media homages.
His show's upbeat treatment of this controversial subject was particularly inept given the fact that this year's bull run saw yet another fatality.
The violence of a goring was vividly conveyed by a BBC news correspondent who told of how a bull "hit the victim in the abdomen, severed a main artery, sliced through his kidney and punctured his liver, before tossing him seven metres in the air...he died in hospital of massive blood loss".
Participating in a bull run is often presented as a daring act of manliness but it's inarguable that taunting bulls, hitting them with sticks and tugging their tails is the antithesis of machismo.
The bulls that entertain the mob are actually scared into stampeding by electric shock prods and along the way are at risk of slipping on the cobbles and suffering bruises and broken bones.
Later, as the revellers pat each other on the back and sip their sangria, these magnificent creatures are being brought to their bloody knees after 20 minutes of agonising butchery in the local bullring.
Those who perpetuate Pamplona deserve not an iota of admiration on our airwaves but downright disgust and disdain.
Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports
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The Irish Council Against Blood Sports relies entirely on your generosity to continue our campaigning for an end to blood sport cruelty. Please become a supporter of our work today - click on "Shop" at www.banbloodsports.com for more details or send a cheque to ICABS, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Thank you very much.
Keep hunters off your land
Make it known publicly that your land is off-limits to hunters. Place a preservation notice in your local newspaper now. Here is a notice that you may wish to use: "Take notice that all my lands at [Insert address(es) of land] are private and preserved day and night. All forms of hunting and shooting are strictly prohibited. Trespassers will be prosecuted. Signed [Insert name(s) of landowner]" For more information, click on Farmers at www.banbloodsports.com Download the FAFT leaflet from: www.scribd.com/doc/17651383
Tune in to the ICABS Channel
Footage of blood sport cruelty and the humane alternatives can be viewed on the ICABS Channel on Youtube - www.youtube.com/icabs or by clicking on "Videos" at www.banbloodsports.com Please ask your local TD/Senator to view our videos and back a blood sports ban.
Animal Voice - Subscribe
To receive "Animal Voice" by email every month, please send "Animal Voice - Subscribe" to email@example.com
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