Animal Voice, Summer 2004
Full Contents - Sections 1-4 - Pages 1-28

Welcome Message

Welcome to the Summer edition of Animal Voice, and a grateful thanks to all you loyal and generous supporters who sent in subscriptions and donations, wrote letters to the Minister for the Environment on the Ward Union deer hunt issue, and responded to our appeals in the last edition.

It's important to keep in mind that every letter and email counts. We've got to keep reminding our legislators on an ongoing basis about the campaign, despite the fact that they continue to deflect and dodge the issues, judging by the type of written response you will have received to your letters from, for example, the Department of the Environment.

The present government party, Fianna Fail, has recently received a major slap on the wrist from the ordinary people of Ireland, as witnessed by the latest election results. They have been punished for their seeming arrogance and total lack of concern on many important issues which affect everybody - health, education and many other vital services.

While our campaign may seemingly rank low in the order of government priorities, it is nonetheless deserving of attention by our legislators, and we must renew and redouble our efforts to get their attention, now that they have decided to listen to the people. If they get enough letters, on a regular basis, from those of us opposing cruelty to animals, perhaps they will listen.

It's up to us to make them pay attention, and we can do this by consistently putting our campaign issues in front of them in a polite, assertive and logical manner.

Enclosed in this edition are postcards. We would be most grateful if you would complete your name and address on the space provided on each and post to the Minister. One is calling for him to stop licensing the Ward Union carted deer hunt, and the other is calling for an end to the licensing of hare netting for coursing. If you have family or friends who would like to help our campaign by sending postcards, we will be very happy to supply more.

A word of encouragement - the Bill to outlaw hunting with dogs in the UK is expected to be passed in the House of Commons later in the summer. When hunting is finally outlawed in Britain, it will give impetus to the campaign here.

With apologies to those of our supporters who are smokers, it is very interesting to note that now that Ireland has become the first European country to ban smoking in all public places and work-places, the UK may follow suit and implement a ban.

I mention this to demonstrate that a ban on smoking was a highly contentious issue here, and looked like it would never happen, but it did become a reality, despite a very strong campaign against it.

So, whether you agree with the smoking ban or not, it shows that the seemingly impossible can be achieved, if the political will is there.

That is why we've got to keep putting our campaign in front of the legislators at each and every opportunity. Your support is therefore vital. So keep those letters and emails going in to the various Ministers, and please respond to the action items on the various stories in this issue of Animal Voice. Again, grateful thanks for your continued support. Aideen Yourell Campaign Director

Renewed call for end to deerhunt

A hard-hitting report on RTE's Prime Time has once again exposed the Ward Union Hunt's abusive treatment of deer. Broadcast in March, the programme included shocking new video footage captured by ICABS observers showing an exhausted and injured deer at the end of a hunt.

The animal, with a bleeding wound on its head, stands panting for breath after being chased across the countryside by hunters and hounds. Seven men are surrounding the animal and they proceed to drag it along towards the hunt's trailer. From there, it is returned to the hunt's private deerpark to be used again in a future hunt.

This internationally condemned blood sport is unique to Ireland. The Ward Union is the only known hunt in the world that hunts domestic animals - the deer are bred in captivity and kept in an enclosure between hunts.

Member of Ward Union Hunt grabbing the ear and mouth of the captured deer. The deer's head is bleeding and its tongue is hanging out.
A bleeding deer at the end of a Ward Union hunt. Minister Cullen says there is no reason to stop licensing this cruelty.

Despite repeated calls for the activity to be banned, the Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen, is continuing to insist that there is no reason to refuse an annual licence to the hunt. Even after ICABS (with the help of our vice-president, Tony Gregory) unearthed a secret 1997 report which concluded that the hunt is inhumane.

This Department of Agriculture document found that the transportation, release and capture of the deer are all inhumane. Please see article inside for more details on the report's damning conclusions.

ICABS will continue to lobby the government to ban this blood sport. We believe that the Department of the Environment's licensing of carted deer hunting is illegal under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act because of the domesticated nature of the deer used. A similar hunt was banned in Northern Ireland a few years ago because the deer were deemed to be domestic and therefore illegal to hunt.


Please join us in appealing to Minister Martin Cullen to stop licensing carted deer hunting. Send the enclosed postcard and/or contact the Minister at: Dept of the Environment, Custom House, Dublin 1. Tel: Locall 1890-202021 (Request to speak to Minister Cullen or his secretary) Tel: +353 (0) 1 888 2000. Fax: +353 (0)1 888 2888. Email:

Government subverting animal protection laws

In a Dail Debate in March, Tony Gregory, TD, criticised the Government's "appalling record of disregard of animal welfare" and demanded action to end blood sports.

Referring to the licensing of carted deer hunting by the Department of the Environment, Deputy Gregory said he considered this to be "a flagrant breach of the Protection of Animals Act".

This Act states that it is an offence of cruelty to terrorise or cause unnecessary suffering to a domestic animal. This should prevent the Ward Union from getting a licence since the domesticated deer they hunt are from a herd which has been in captivity for over 150 years.

Furthermore, according to a Department of Agriculture report, the herd is "augmented regularly by stock from captive herds farmed solely for venison production".

"It was for that very reason that, in 1997, the Department of Agriculture in the North took legal and veterinary advice and concluded that deer tamed by their semi-intensive rearing system must be regarded as domestic animals and hunting them would be an act of cruelty and in breach of their welfare of animals Acts," Deputy Gregory reminded the Dail. "The authorities in the North ceased to issue hunt licences and outlawed the practice. What happened in the Republic? The Attorney General's advice was sought but never revealed. It seems it is top secret, for whatever reason, and licences continue to be issued."

Tony Gregory smiling
ICABS Vice-president and Independent TD for Dublin Central, Tony Gregory. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Appealing to Minister Martin Cullen to re-examine the issue of carted deer hunting, Deputy Gregory remarked that "it must be a scandal that the Government should connive in the manner I have outlined to subvert the protection of animals legislation in this State."

"This matter demands action and a resolute stand against the vested interests involved in torturing helpless animals," he added.

In response, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Pat the Cope Gallagher, TD stated: "Section 26 of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, which governs the licensing of the hunting of deer by stag hounds, refers generically to deer, and the question of whether deer are domestic or wild is not an issue in that section.

This was "sufficient to empower the Minister to licence the Ward Union hunt", he maintained.

ICABS does not accept this as a valid reason for continuing to licence carted deer hunting and will continue to press for a ban on this barbaric activity.

For a full transcript of this Dail debate as well as a variety of other Dail Questions relating to blood sports, please visit the Politicians section of our website at

Minister continuing to defend cruel coursing

Greyhounds would not follow an artificial lure. That's the absurd claim made by the Minister for Arts, "Sports" and Tourism, John O'Donoghue.

The statement came following questions in the Dail from Tony Gregory, TD.

While acknowledging correspondence from ICABS (which explained the viability of drag coursing) and the "availability" of a drag coursing video which ICABS sent to him, the Minister insisted on quoting misinformation from the Irish Coursing Club which claims that coursing hounds wouldn't chase a mechanical lure as they do in greyhound racing.

"Does the Minister agree that, due to the activities of a small minority, we unfortunately have a dismal and appalling record in animal welfare and does he further agree that the continuation of such a medieval, archaic and anachronistic activity as hare coursing is part of that culture of cruelty?" Deputy Gregory asked.

In response, Minister O'Donoghue claimed that "coursing is a popular sport among a considerable number of people."

The claim was challenged by Independent TD, Finian McGrath who pointed out that the coursers are "a small minority of the population".

Nature fund now inviting applicants

Vodafone and Conservation Volunteers Ireland have established a nature fund which is aiming to promote an appreciation of wildlife and the environment.

Applications are being invited for funding for projects which "display a practical commitment to understanding, enhancing and protecting our environment". Submissions will be considered all year round and are assessed in June and December.

Those eligible to apply for funding include individuals, wildlife organisations, environmental organisations, schools, youth groups, residents associations, landowners, farmers, community based organisations, local authorities, businesses and tidy town committees.

Among the projects listed as being eligible for possible funding include: wildlife conservation, habitat protection, education and awareness raising, waste recycling, research or data collection and restoration projects.

For more details, visit or

Animal Voice via email

Would you like to receive Animal Voice via email direct to your computer?

The electronic version of the magazine appears more frequently and will keep you even more up-to-date on campaigning news and appeals.

You can receive the email version instead of, or in addition to, the printed version. Simply send us your email address and you will automatically receive future editions.

Aertel publicises hunt fundraisers

Aertel have promised to consider an ICABS appeal in which we called on them to stop including point-to-points in their sports listings.

In making the appeal, we explained how point-to-point races are a major fundraising activity for foxhunts.

"Point-to-points are a way to raise the funds which are vital to the continuation of their blood sport activities," we stated. "Without point-to-points (and the other major fundraiser - hunt balls), foxhunting would effectively be starved of cash."

Also highlighted was the fact that point-to-points are exclusively carried out by foxhunts. Quoted to Aertel was an Irish Independent article from August 2002.

This stated that "the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association holds the monopoly" regarding point-to-points.

This is evident from the fixtures and results which have been featured on Aertel. Among the point-to-points that have been included are those organised by the infamous Galway Blazers.

In a letter to ICABS, Aertel Managing Editor, Richard Murphy, said he would "investigate this matter further" before making a decision.

The listings in question were being shown on Aertel Page 508 (Network 2) and on Aertel's website.


Please join us in calling for an end to point-to-point listings on Aertel. The majority of Irish people are opposed to foxhunting and RTE should not be helping to publicise events which are directly benefiting blood sports groups. Richard Murphy, Managing Editor, Aertel , RTE TV, Donnybrook, Dublin 4. Email:

Boylesports confirmed as sponsor of coursing

In the last issue of Animal Voice, we highlighted how both Paddy Power and Boyle Sports bookmakers accept bets on the blood sport of coursing.

ICABS was disgusted to learn that Boyle Sports is also among the handful of remaining companies in Ireland who shamelessly sponsor coursing. The "Boyle Sports Derby" was one of the events at the national coursing finals in February.

We have written to Boyle Sports, asking them to disassociate themselves from this animal cruelty. "It is regrettable that your company deems it appropriate to help keep this blood sport alive through financial support," we said in our letter. No reply has been received.

ICABS was also disgusted to note that hare coursing results were included on the Boyle Sports website and that the Managing Director was photographed posing at a coursing meeting in County Kerry.


Please contact Boyle Sports and ask them to reconsider their policy in relation to sponsoring blood sports. Point out, if relevant, that until they change their policy, you will not be visiting any their outlets in the future. John Boyle, Managing Director, Boyle Sports, 31 Shop Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth. Email:

Blood sport listings removed from county council website

Waterford County Council has finally removed blood sport listings from its website, ICABS is happy to report.

The references to hunting and coursing appeared in the council's county sport directory pages and prompted ICABS to launch an appeal in late 2002.

We told the council that it was entirely unacceptable for them to allow their website to be used to promote animal cruelty.

We are now pleased to be able to bring you the news that the directory in which the coursing and hunting listings appeared has been removed from the website.

In its place is a link to the website of Waterford Sports Partnership. No mention of coursing or hunting appears on this site. ICABS thanks Waterford County Council for this positive move.

And thank you also to everyone who contacted the council and helped to bring this campaign to a successful conclusion.

Coillte urged to bar hunters from forests

Pictured is a sign at the entrance to one of Ireland's most tranquil and animal-friendly forests. The Coillte-owned beauty spot is a rare haven where wildlife can live free from persecution.

In a recent submission to the forestry board, ICABS expressed our wish to see such signs displayed at every Coillte forest.

Our presentation to the board was in response to a review being carried out by the semi-state company into its recreational policy. The objective of the review, say Coillte, is to "develop recreation to meet the needs of both stakeholders and the company for the next two decades".

ICABS supporters will recall how previous lobbying has revealed that Coillte "neither encourages nor permits hunting [with hounds] on its lands except where traditional hunting rights already exist". This still means, however, that a few foxhunts remain free to terrorise and kill foxes on Coillte property. It is an unfortunate situation which should be ended by the company.

In addition, much of Coillte's 445,000 hectares (6.5 per cent of the national land area) is accessible to trigger happy shooters who find fun in gunning down the resident birds and animals.

Brown Coillte sign with the message: Wildlife Sanctuary - No Hunting, No Shooting
A sign of things to come, we hope. ICABS is urging Coillte to make all of its 445,000 hectares of land off-limits to hunters. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

"We wish to see all those who kill wildlife being kept out of Coillte forests," ICABS outlined in our submission. "Even knowing that these individuals are allowed access to the forest (without necessarily having to see or hear them) makes the forest experience less attractive. Instead of being a place of undisturbed natural beauty, it is transformed into a location where the wildlife is vulnerable and continually faces the possibility of becoming a target."

"The majority of Irish citizens who visit the forests oppose the killing of animals for fun," we added. "For those who have a love and respect for Irish wildlife, it is distressing to see hunters arriving to harass and kill animals that inhabit the forest."

Another issue highlighted in the submission was that of public safety. How many people's enjoyment of the forest has been overshadowed by the sound of gunshots? Knowing that someone with a lethal weapon is in the vicinity is sure to cause unease. Particularly with a string of incidents being highlighted in the media involving members of the public being hit by so-called stray bullets.

For the sake of both wildlife and members of the public present in the forest, Coillte must change their policy. Please follow our action item and help convince Coillte to make their land off-limits to hunters.


Appeal to Coillte to bar all hunters from its property. Hunters cast a shadow over other people's enjoyment of the forest and pose a risk to public safety. Daithi de Forge, Recreation Policy Review Group, Coillte, Bridge Street Centre, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Tel: (0502) 21617 or 60655 Fax: (0502) 60524 Email:

Woman struck by "stray" rifle bullet

A woman hit by a "stray" rifle bullet in Boyle, Co Roscommon miraculously survived the ordeal.

The incident, described by local Gardai as being "more than likely an accident", occurred on a Saturday afternoon when the woman was walking from her car towards the town's library.

The bullet, which thankfully did not penetrate the skull, was subsequently removed from her head at Sligo General Hospital.

Boyle Gardai appealed for information about anybody out shooting in the vicinity.

Shooter posed threat to forest walkers: mag

The lives of forest walkers may have been put at risk by a reckless thug with a rifle. That's the suggestion made in the April edition of the Irish Shooters Digest magazine.

Reporting on the vandalisation of road signs by shooters, the article was particularly critical of the blasting of a sign near a forest walk.

"For sheer trigger happiness, cowboyism, guntoting vandalism, this takes the biscuit," the article stated. "For a rifle man to take a shot at a target on the ground is one thing, but to take a shot at eye level, is nothing short of insanity."

"At this particular spot, this shooter fired directly towards a forest walk, some of which is less than 100 yards away from it, and going in a circle around it, frequented by many walkers on an every day basis...Even if the shot was taken at night, the danger is still there."

Yellow road sign with bullet hole near top corner
A road sign with a bullet hole in it. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Outrage over handout to hunt-owned centre

As reported in the December edition of Animal Voice, the Punchestown Centre, which is half-owned by the Kildare Hunt, received a massive grant from the government.

We can now reveal the exact amount of taxpayers' money given to the centre.

Following a Dail Question in February from Green Party TD, John Gormley, the Department of Agriculture revealed that the handout amounted to an enormous €14,642,869.33.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is outraged that the Kildare Foxhunt is the beneficiary of this massive grant. We feel that this is tantamount to an endorsement by the government of this hunt and thereby their barbaric activities.

ICABS is also concerned that the Kildare Hunt will direct profits earned from the Punchestown Centre towards their cruel activity - the hounding down and killing of foxes for fun.

We ask the general public to bear this in mind when considering attending events at the Punchestown Centre.


To express your disapproval over public funds being given to blood sports groups, please write to the Minister for Finance, c/o Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Email:

Death of Dr Anne Behan

It is with great sadness that we report the death on 1st February 2004 of environmental consultant Dr Anne Behan.

Dr Behan operated the Hidden Wilds service which involved bringing people of all ages on eco-tours and giving lectures. She also wrote a weekly column for the Leinster Leader newspaper. In 2003, she won an award for video footage she captured which showed the beauty of nature.

At an ICABS seminar in 1998, Dr Behan gave an informative talk on the theme of "History of Hunting with a Modern Perspective". She also spoke on the issue of habitat destruction, highlighting the plight of wildlife when their habitat is destroyed. "They have no choice but to move on elsewhere," she said. "With suitable habitats being continually eliminated, however, the places to which displaced wildlife can retreat to are becoming very scarce."

Those who attended the seminar will recall Dr Behan's infectious enthusiasm and dedication to preserving wild places and wildlife.

ICABS extends its sympathy to Dr Behan's partner, family and friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílis.

Dr Anne Behan
Dr Behan giving a talk at an ICABS seminar.

Suppressed document damning of deer hunt

A Department of Agriculture report regarding the controversial Ward Union deer hunt has finally come to the surface - after more than seven years of suppression.

Despite several attempts by ICABS to obtain a copy, the tightly guarded document remained inaccessible. And now we know why.

Thanks to a Dail Question from Tony Gregory, TD, the 15-page report was finally released in Autumn 2003.

Entitled "Monitoring of the Stag Hunts conducted by the Ward Union Hunt", the 1997 report was authored by Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector, Kieran Kane. Many of his conclusions are damning of the hunt and should have marked an end to carted deer hunting in Ireland.

He found that the transportation of the deer, the chasing of the deer and the capture of the deer at the end of the hunt are all inhumane. What follows is a small selection of Mr Kane's key quotes. If you would like to read the full text of the report, please visit the ICABS website or email us for a copy.

"The transportation of the stags in the cart is inhumane in its manner and in the design of the cart. The enlargement of the stags is inhumane in that they are ejected suddenly into a strange environment and alone. A stag which has been hunted previously appears, before the hunt starts, to be distressed and aware that he is about to be hunted again."

"Stags being hunted appear to be terrified of the hounds. A stag is aware when he is being hunted and continues to flee even when the hounds are far behind. Stags are sometimes wounded or injured during hunts by physical incidents or by the hounds. Stags are terrified by people and motor vehicles during the hunt. Stags are apparently distressed and exhausted towards the end of hunts and will hide and lie down at this stage. At the end of the hunt, the fact that a man can catch and hold him would seem to be adequate evidence of physical exhaustion by the stag. The handling of the stag when taken at the end of a hunt must be terrifying and stressful to the animal."

"At one hunt it was notable that of the two stags in the cart one, which had been hunted previously, was showing body tremors, excessive salivation and panting whereas the other stag, which had not been hunted previously, appeared relatively calm."

"…a farmer who saw, at very close range, the stag at bay on 7th February told me that it was bleeding from one leg."

"In the early stages of the hunt the stag runs constantly but as the hunt progresses he may stop running and hide or even lie down and it is at this stage that the hounds may catch up with him."

"A major hazard encountered by stags is barbed wire. One stag was seen attempting to jump a fence and getting his front leg caught on a top strand of barbed wire and hanging, thus suspended, for some seconds before his struggles and/or weight tore him free."

"A stag observed, down to 30 yards range through binoculars, having run at least 8 miles in 90 minutes showed extreme physical distress, panting through its mouth and with a lather of white foam around its muzzle..."

"A significant number of stags are not taken at the end of the hunt. Some of these are subsequently hunted as outliers and may then be taken; others are captured when they return to the vicinity of the deerpark and are lured in: others are captured by being immobilised by means of a projectile dart loaded with a narcotic drug."

"Stags are hunted until about 9 years of age at which time they may get "stiff" or fail in condition and I was told that they are then sold or exchanged with commercial deer farms or slaughtered for venison."

"As the Red Deer herd presently kept at Green Park 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' for the purposes of the Protection of Animals Acts, 1911 and 1965."

"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."

"Domesticated Red Deer are obviously completely unfit for a prolonged chase by hounds."

"I am very conscious that my conclusions may have some influence on decisions which may eventually lead to a loss of much pleasure to a large number of people who do not believe that they might have been doing anything cruel; I regret that loss to those people and trust that they will accept that I arrived at my conclusions objectively and without bias and only after much reflection."

Help expose Ireland's illegal cockfighters

Despite being illegal in Ireland, the blood sport of cockfighting still takes place in some parts of the country. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on members of the public to report any information about cockfighting activities to the Gardai.

The phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland can be found at You can also pass on information to ICABS (044-49848) or to the ISPCA National Cruelty Helpline (048-9081 4242).

Similar to other blood sports like foxhunting, hare coursing and carted deer hunting, the typical cockfight involves horrendous animal cruelty. Two cocks are thrown into an enclosed pit and encouraged to rip each other apart until one succumbs and dies. This bloody combat is cheered on by spectators, many of whom will be gambling on the outcome.

Birds such as the Irish Game Cock and the Large Old English Game Cock are traditionally used since they are particularly territorial and will instinctively chase rivals away.

Cockfight victim with bleeding head and bloodied feathers
Bloodied and dazed: A victim of cockfighting in Ireland.

During the season (Easter Sunday up until the end of July), two forms of cockfighting are carried out - "naked heel" and "spur fighting". In naked heel, the birds' natural spurs are sharpened to maximise the injury they can inflict.

Spur fighting, meanwhile, sees three-inch long steel spurs being attached to the sides of their legs. These are designed to cause even greater injuries and result in more savage battles. Cock fights can last up to 25 minutes or as long as the birds can withstand the injuries.

To help expose the sheer barbarity of cockfighting, ICABS has added a new video and photo gallery to our website.

Man fined €250 for interfering with Mullingar badger sett

A man who interfered with a badger sett in a midlands nature reserve has been fined €250.

45-year-old plasterer, Michael O'Dowd, of Grange Crescent, Mullingar, pleaded guilty to the charges of interfering with the breeding place of a protected wild animal and failing to comply with the request of a ranger.

At Mullingar District Court on 3rd June, 2004, Judge David Anderson heard how three wildlife rangers called to O'Dowd's home after discovering a freshly dug out badger sett at Rochfort Demense near Lough Ennel.

The rangers were acting on a complaint that the man had been hunting badgers on Westmeath County Council land on the lake shore.

The court was told that O'Dowd admitted he had been hunting with his dogs that morning, but he claimed he was hunting foxes. The rangers made a complaint to the Gardai, however, after he refused to comply with their request to see his dogs and the spade he used.

In a statement to the Gardai, O'Dowd admitted digging out the badger sett on 26th May, 2003. He said his terrier had gone into the sett and he had to dig him out.

Judge Anderson imposed a €250 fine for interfering with the sett and €100 for failing to comply with the rangers' request.

Paper criticised for coverage of hare coursing

The Clare Champion newspaper has been criticised for its coverage of hare coursing.

In the sports pages of its 6th February edition, the paper featured a half-page report on coursing. Appearing alongside a photo of a hare running for its life, the report described the coursing finals in Clonmel as "another great day for Clare".


Please contact the editor and appeal to him to stop giving positive coverage to blood sports.

Gerry Collison, Editor, Clare Champion, Barrack Street, Ennis, Co Clare. Tel: 065-6828105. Fax: 065-6820374. Email:

Bord na gCon poised to grant aid coursers
Coursing clubs hoping to get their hands on €1/4million of taxpayers' cash

The unthinkable may be about to happen and we flagged it in a previous newsletter.

The Irish Greyhound Board - Bord na gCon - has approved "in principle" a quarter of a million Euro for hare coursing from their annual €12-13 million grant from the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism.

A Bord na gCon spokesperson is on record as saying that the board "has in principle approved financing to support the Irish Coursing Club in the improvement of integrity and welfare issues".

"The ICC did submit a proposal in respect of the funding and this proposal was not accepted by the Board. No funding has yet been committed in respect of this support and the Board is awaiting specific proposals from the ICC in respect of the utilisation of the proposed funding for animal welfare and integrity issues."

Answering questions at an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee in April, the Chief Executive of Bord na gCon told Green Party TD, Dan Boyle that: "The board has not supported the Irish Coursing Club financially."

However, with a massive grant being approved in principle, there is a real risk that this could all change.

An article in the Sporting Press referred to a statement made at the end of March by the Irish Coursing Club's president in which he indicated that a handout was imminent.

He said that he had met Irish Greyhound Board chairman, Paschal Taggart, who was "genuinely keen to see the problems solved". He added: "We more or less agreed a [financial] package which could benefit the ICC."

This response is at odds with a previous statement from the board. In 2003, Animal Voice reported how they expressed their belief that giving money to the coursers would "mark the beginning of the end for greyhound sports".

So the public purse may now possibly fund animal cruelty. And to add insult to injury, Bord na gCon states that this proposed grant to the coursers is for "ANIMAL WELFARE" purposes. This spin is utterly stomach churning and hypocritical in the extreme.

We have no doubt that the funds would go towards prizemoney for coursing events.

In any event, welfare for hares in coursing can't be improved as taking hares from the wild and using them as live lures is inherently and intrinsically cruel, and there is no way the cruelty can be alleviated by one cent, never mind a quarter of a million Euro.

This ludicrous suggestion is a spin too far and the Irish public will not buy it.

Welfare for hares can only be improved by leaving them alone in the wild and outlawing hare coursing.

If there is a quarter of a million Euro up for grabs, then we suggest that it could be put towards some real animal welfare causes. There are many struggling animal rescue centres around the country which would be grateful for even a fraction of this grant.


Please join us in urgently calling on the government to ensure that not a penny of taxpayers' money is given to the Irish Coursing Club.

Minister John O'Donoghue Department of Arts, "Sports" and Tourism, Frederick Buildings, South Frederick St Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: 01-631 3802. Locall: 1890-383 000. Fax: 01-679 9291. Email:

An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern Government Buildings Merrion Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-619 4020. LoCall: 1890-227 227. Fax: 01-678 9791 Email:

Majority want coursing ban

Successive opinion polls over the past three decades have shown that a huge majority of Irish people want coursing made illegal.

The most recent poll (Sunday Independent, 1998) showed that 80 per cent of both rural and urban dwellers want coursing banned.

The newspaper concluded that: "There is very little support across the country for hare coursing, even when the dogs are muzzled...hare coursing should be banned outright, a huge majority of Irish people now believe."

For more poll results, click on "More Info" at

National Parks will remain hunter-free

ICABS has welcomed the good news that Environment Minister, Martin Cullen, is to retain the policy of keeping hunters out of our national parks and nature reserves.

The decision comes following a four year wrangle with the gun clubs who wanted the 30-year policy changed.

In 1999, the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) requested the then Minister with responsibility for wildlife, Sile De Valera, to reconsider this policy and she initiated a review into hunting on state lands.

The review was carried out by consultants for the Heritage Service who advised in 2000 that no shooting should be allowed in national parks and nature reserves. Regardless, the NARGC continued to press for the policy to be changed.

On January 29th 2004, Minister Martin Cullen (who is responsible for the national parks) wrote to gun club boss, Des Crofton, and told him that the no hunting policy was to remain. Among the reasons cited for the refusal were public safety and the protection of wildlife.

Minister Cullen said that "the NPWS (National Parks & Wildlife Service) sites were acquired, using public funds, for the purpose of nature conservation and they should serve as refuges and breeding places for species of wildlife" and that "the general public understands that the role of NPWS is to protect wildlife and would view hunting on NPWS property as inconsistent with that role."

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports very much welcomes Minister Cullen's decision to stand firm against the gun clubs and keep our national parks hunter-free.

We are much relieved that these sanctuaries for wildlife, of which there are precious few in this country, are kept safe and free from hunters.

It would have been a retrograde step if this policy was overturned in the interests of gun men. We know that the vast majority of people would be horrified to have the peace and tranquillity that they have come to enjoy in our national parks shattered by gun fire.

Thanks very much to all the ICABS campaigners who contacted the government over the years and urged them to make this common sense decision.

Tony Gregory condemns JP McManus

ICABS vice-president, and Independent TD, Tony Gregory, has condemned hare coursing sponsor, JP McManus.

The Manchester United shareholder - said to be Ireland's eighth richest person - sponsored the three day Irish Cup coursing meeting in February. The total prize money on offer was €140,000.

Quoted in the News of the World, Deputy Gregory stated: "I don't understand the mentality it must take to sponsor an event like that...this so-called sport has no place in a modern Ireland and no one who is forward thinking should be involved in it."

Is Bertie Ahern anti-coursing?

Is Bertie Ahern for or against live hare coursing? That's what ICABS has been trying to find out in recent months.

Despite being in possession of a letter from 1997 in which the Taoiseach claims that he is "totally opposed to hare coursing", we remain unconvinced. If he is truly opposed to this blood sport, why does he not use his power as the prime minister to work towards banning it.

Appeals from ICABS for the Taoiseach to confirm his views on this issue have been repeatedly ignored. We need your help.


Please write to Bertie Ahern and ask him to clarify his views on blood sport cruelty. Bertie Ahern, TD, Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-6194020 Lo-Call: 1890-227227 Fax: 01-6789791 E-mail:

Forty hares die at coursing meeting
Vet states stress of coursing is the cause

Following the deaths of up to forty hares after a coursing meeting at New Ross, County Wexford, a veterinary surgeon cited stress as the cause.

Vet Peter A Murphy told the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in a letter last January, that "under the influence of stress, the hare's immune system is compromised and these organisms suddenly multiply rapidly to cause a severe clinical disease and ultimately death."

"Hares being normally solitary animals," Mr Murphy wrote, "are significantly stressed when corralled and coursed, and this combination of circumstances has resulted in the deaths in this case."

Post mortems had been carried out by Mr Murphy and the Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Kilkenny, after the hare deaths.

The ranger who monitored the coursing meeting stated in his report that "it was obvious that the hares were not in good condition".

There were eleven hares hit by dogs and six were dead by next morning. The following day, according to the ranger, it was the same, with hares "not willing" to run and four being hit by dogs.

ICABS asks the question, why was this meeting not stopped on day one when it was noted that the hares were obviously not in good condition?

This again highlights the utter callousness and cruelty of the coursers whose only priority is that their "sick" sport carries on, despite the suffering of the hares.

Hare injuries and deaths continue in coursing

Hares continue to be mauled, injured and killed at coursing meetings, according to National Parks & Wildlife Service reports.

The reports, filed by conservation rangers, were issued to ICABS Vice-president, Deputy Tony Gregory, in Dail Eireann.

Relating to the 32 coursing meetings observed by rangers (out of a national total of around 100), the reports show that 174 hares were "struck" with 41 hares injured while up to 46 hares died of so-called "natural causes".

Another clear indication that there is absolutely no way, despite claims by the Irish Coursing Club, that injuries and kills can be eliminated from coursing. It is as clear now as it ever was that the muzzling of coursing greyhounds has failed to save hares.

As regards the 124 hares out of 174 which survived being "struck" by muzzled dogs, they were documented by the rangers as having been returned to the wild after coursing. ICABS can only speculate on the welfare of these creatures.

All hares used as live lures, whether struck or not, are deeply stressed and traumatised by the experience, and their welfare seriously compromised.

Please keep the pressure on your local Dail/Senate representatives. Tell them that the time has come to finally rid Ireland of this cruel and unnecessary blood sport.

Ranger critical of pregnant hare coursing

In a memo from one National Parks and Wildlife Service official to another, "serious reservations" were expressed about "a vet allowing pregnant hares and hares which have just given birth to be coursed".

The conservation ranger who attended the Westmeath United coursing meeting in Raharney, Co. Westmeath, was told by a coursing club official that "some hares return to the coursing field after a coursing meeting as some give birth while penned up in the enclosure prior to the coursing meeting."

The ranger noted a small hare in the enclosure and was told by the coursing club official that it had been born there.

In the memo, Dr Linda Patton stated that "since these animals are protected and it seems that the populations may be declining, we should surely be aiming to protect the pregnant and suckling adults and their young with a view to conserving the species at a favourable conservation status."

Incredibly, according to the licence to net hares, there is no condition regarding the taking of pregnant hares. This points up again the gross interference by coursing clubs in the life cycle of a timid wild species and the state's willingness to continue licensing this abuse regardless.

This is another significant reason, among many, for an end to live hare coursing.


Please send the enclosed campaign postcard to the Minister for the Environment who grants a licence for the taking of hares from the wild. If you require extra copies to give to your friends/family, please get in touch with us.

Millionaire members of deer hunt exposed

"Powerful millionaire business moguls who get their kicks hunting terrified animals" - Star Sunday's description of Ward Union members, Michael Bailey and Johnny Ronan.

"Two of Ireland's most prominent businessmen get their kicks chasing defenceless deer across the countryside," the report stated. "Property developer Michael Bailey is one of the masters of the controversial Ward Union stag hunt, whose members like nothing better than to pursue a fleeing deer on horseback with a pack of hounds."

Michael Bailey
Michael Bailey: gets kicks chasing defenceless deer. (Photo: ICABS)

"Millionaire Treasury Holdings boss Johnny Ronan is also a member of the club and he participated in a hunt north of Dublin two weeks ago with Bailey and other members. Mr Bailey [of Flood Tribunal fame] owns the large building company Bovale Developments, while Mr Ronan - also a property developer - was ranked at 61 on Ireland's rich list last year."

The article appeared in March following a day's observing of the Ward Union by ICABS. Accompanied by Tony Gregory, TD, we filmed the hunt's deplorable activities. Among the disturbing scenes witnessed was an exhausted deer with its tongue hanging out trying to escape the pursuing hunters and hounds.

An image of Michael Bailey captured by ICABS on the day was supplied to the Star Sunday and appeared alongside their report.

Hunt reported for alleged littering

A hunt which placed fliers on car windscreens in a village in County Meath has been reported to the local litter warden.

ICABS reported the incident after spotting the advertisement leaflets stuck on parked cars. The placing of leaflets or fliers on car windscreens is prohibited under the Litter Pollution Act, 1997.

Although thanking ICABS for reporting the incident, the Environment section of Meath County Council outlined that the "burden of proof which falls on the Council to prove an alleged litter offence would not appear adequate in this instance".

The Council revealed that the details required before a fine can be considered are: "registration number of vehicle(s) that the leaflet was placed upon, photographic evidence, verification of the date and placement of leaflets by a witness and where and how the leaflet was placed on vehicle."

Litter laws also forbid the putting up of posters/signs (e.g. signs advertising hunt point-to-points) on poles or on other structures in public places unless the permission of the owner has been granted. If you spot any form of litter which originated with a blood sport group, please report it to a litter warden.

Mastercard credited for compassion

Mastercard have been credited as a compassionate company after responding positively to appeals for an end to their circus promotions.

As reported in the November 2003 edition of Animal Voice, the company had been promoting the Barnum & Bailey and Ringling circuses by sending out discount vouchers to their customers.

The campaign against the promotion was spearheaded by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who sent a circus video to the Mastercard president and board of directors.

This video revealed the standard training methods used by circuses all over the world. Undercover footage showed screaming and terrified elephants being attacked with sharp metal bullhooks and electric prods during behind-the-scenes training sessions.

"MasterCard has done the right thing," commented PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "A credit card company's business should not include keeping chained and caged animals lonely, stressed, and a long way from their homes."

Congratulations to all the ICABS supporters who got involved in this campaign by contacting the president of Mastercard.

Bird shoots promoted on Ear to the Ground

In February, Ear to the Ground featured an item on pheasant shooting in Wexford. A shooter interviewed described blasting birds out of the sky as a "healthy pastime".


Please write to John Cummins (Executive Producer of Ear to the Ground and Managing Director of Agtel Communications). Appeal to him to stop giving positive coverage to activities which involve the killing of animals for fun. John Cummins, Agtel Communications, 22 Fitzwilliam Street Upper, Dublin 2. Email:

Galway goats gunned down

Aideen Yourell reports on a horrific incident in County Galway which epitomises the vulnerability of our feral goat population.

While leafing through the April edition of an Irish gun magazine, I was horrified to see a trio of trophy hunters, two armed with lethal weapons, and one holding up a stricken male goat by the horns. The majestic creature had been gunned down for "sport" by shooters keen to try their hand at "big game hunting".

Feral goats in Galway provided the day's entertainment for these shooters and very easy targets they proved to be - the herd were found lying in the sunshine. Five of the animals, including a lame one, were promptly shot down.

Most horrifyingly, it took more than one shot to kill them. A description is given of one goat surviving "a large wound in his forehead" and trying to rise from the ground to escape. One can only imagine the terror and suffering endured.

The article on the day's carnage made for thoroughly sickening reading, with the author going into cold, clinical and forensic detail about the merits and de-merits of various guns, bullets and "the ability of the common Irish goat to absorb punishment".

A black and white goat with large horns
Vulnerable: Goats are given no protection under the Wildlife Act. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Sadly, there in no protection in law for these beautiful creatures. Though effectively wild, they are afforded no protection under the Wildlife Act. No licence is required to shoot them, hence the indiscriminate slaughter by shooting gangs.

In the Burren, goats have been found wounded by gunshot, their young kids left orphaned. It is left up to local animal welfarists to find and rescue them.

Despite a reputation for being an occasional nuisance to farmers, goats do play a positive role in ecological terms. For instance, in the Burren, they eat plants and grasses which smother rare plants, therefore helping to maintain the natural balance of this world famous site.

Thankfully, a new campaign has been launched to help secure protection for feral goats around Ireland. Those interested in getting involved are invited to contact The Burren Feral Goat Preservation Society on 087-7954351 or visit

Law professor insists deer hunt is illegal

Professor William Binchy, School of Law, Trinity College, said during an interview on RTE's Primetime on March 9th, that "privatised hunting of deer should not be permitted".

Expressing his legal opinion, Professor Binchy commented: "When a deer is in a park under the ownership of an owner - a confined park such as the Ward Union have - that would constitute a tame deer. I don't see that as being ambiguous or uncertain."

"I don't accept for a moment that when a deer is enlarged - that is to say, chased by a pack of hounds - that it reverts to a wild state," he continued. "Of course, it does its best to protect itself, but having been tame when it arrived at the field in question, it remains in the category of a tame animal.

"I think the public are entitled to know the basis on which the Department considers that it's acting legally in this particular context. On the face it, as I say, the 1911 Act applies and the 1976 Wildlife Act does not give permission to the Minister to grant an authorisation or licence to hunt domesticated deer."

Website removes coursing content

Thank you to everyone who contacted Roscrea Credit Union, sponsors of the Roscrea Online website.

Further to our January appeal, references to hare coursing have been eliminated from the website.

ICABS thanks those responsible for making these changes.

If you spot positive references to blood sports on websites or in newspapers and magazines, please send us details immediately so that we can follow it up.

Bank of Ireland defends loan scheme for wildlife shooters

The Bank of Ireland has defended a loan scheme for members of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC).

A leaflet published by the bank entitled "Preferential Loans exclusive to scheme members of NARGC" includes the NARGC logo on the cover.

In a letter of complaint, ICABS asked why the Bank of Ireland is giving preferential treatment to those who slaughter Irish wildlife.

Responding to our letter, a spokesperson stated: "Bank of Ireland provides preferential loan schemes to members of a wide variety of clubs, associations and groups throughout Ireland.

A leaflet displaying the Bank of Ireland and NARGC logos
The Bank of Ireland leaflet.

"These schemes offer preferential rates to individual members on loans for personal use and are not for the benefit of the organisation. The same lending criteria applies to members of group schemes as it does to individual borrowers and is based entirely on repayment capacity."

"The establishment or existence of such schemes should not be taken as an endorsement by Bank of Ireland of the clubs or associations, or in this case, blood sports generally," she added.

Among the species killed by members of NARGC are: fox, hare, mink, rat, feral cats, deer, Canada Geese, Cock Pheasant, Curlew, Gadwall, Golden Plover, Goldeneye, Grey Crow, Greylag Geese, Jack Snipe, Magpie, Mallard, Pintail, Pochard, Red Grouse, Red-legged Partridge, Ruddy Duck, Scaup, Shoveler, Snipe, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Woodcock and Woodpigeon.


Please write to Bank of Ireland and ask them to stop associating with a group whose members slaughter tens of thousands of defenceless Irish creatures every year. Mary Brennan, Group Corporate Communications, Bank of Ireland, Head Office, Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2. Email:

Ganly Walters remove hunt references from website

Thank you to everyone who responded to the January appeal in which we asked real estate agents, Ganly Walters, to stop presenting blood sports as a property attraction.

We are pleased to report that the offending reference to hunting ("[This property is] adjacent to Meath and Louth foxhounds, Tara Harriers and Ward union Staghounds") has now been removed from the company's website.

Reporting on the success, the Sunday Times quoted a Ganly Walters agent as saying: "The anti-blood sports people highlighted the issue for us and so we decided to have a rethink on it.

"Whether we like it or not, the anti-foxhunting lobby has grown stronger and we came to the conclusion that many more people would be offended today by references to foxhunting. It seemed to make sense to rectify the situation."

ICABS thanks Ganly Walters for their positive move.

Clare FM responds to complaints

Clare FM has insisted that coursing was not promoted on the station's Cormacology show in February.

Presenter, Cormac Mac Connell, announced coursing results and, in conversation with a coursing enthusiast, made the ridiculous claim that hares enjoy being chased by greyhounds.

Though stressing that it is "not the station's policy to espouse the cause of hare coursing", Clare FM CEO, Liam O'Shea, responded as follows to complaints: "I would take issue with your suggestion that we were promoting [coursing]. The fact is that a considerable number of our listeners have an interest in hare coursing and I feel that it is not unreasonable for us to cater in some small way to their needs."

"As regards Cormac McConnell's treatment of the issue I readily accept how it will have offended sensibilities," he added.

Call on phone firm to stop donating to wildlife shooters

ICABS has called on a telecommunications company to stop offering donations to a shooting organisation whose members kill tens of thousands of wild creatures every year.

Euphony Ireland's "Game Talk" service was publicised as being aimed at members of the National Association of Regional Game Councils. For every call made through the system, Euphony promised a donation to NARGC.

On the company's website, a notice for the service stated: "Help raise funds for your local Regional Game Council...Euphony Communications are pleased to announce in conjunction with the NARGC a unique opportunity to not only save money on your local eircom bill but at the same time help your regional game council. So every time you make a call with Game Talk, Euphony donates money to the NARGC."

When ICABS contacted the company's marketing department, a spokesman expressed surprise that NARGC was a shooting organisation. However, a subsequent statement from the company outlined that they "have no qualms about doing business with an officially recognised organisation ... who abide by the governing bodies that oversee hunting sports in Southern Ireland".

An ICABS appeal encouraged campaigners to contact the company and appeal to them to stop helping to fund wildlife killers. Since then, we have noted that an image displaying details about Gametalk has been removed from the NARGC website. Details about the service have also disappeared from the Euphony website. ICABS contacted the company and asked them to clarify if this meant the Gametalk service had been scrapped. We are still waiting for a reply and hope to be able to feature an update in a future edition of Animal Voice.

Canadian harp seal massacre

The Galway SPCA and Animal Rights Action Network were among the Irish groups calling for the Canadian Government to stop the country's infamous seal hunt.

This year's hunt left around 300,000 seals dead. An estimated one million face death over the next three years.

The animals are shot, clubbed over the head and hacked to death. Incredibly, the Canadian Government is insisting that this is perfectly humane!

Anyone who saw the scenes of barbarity on television news programme will vigorously contest this view. As do independent veterinarians who observed the hunt and estimate that up to 40 per cent of the seals may have been skinned while still conscious.

Additional abuses observed include stockpiling dead and dying animals, dragging live seals across the ice with sharpened steel hooks and shooting seals and leaving them to suffer.


The Canadian Tourism Commission has admitted that they are expecting an international backlash over the hunt.

Please join this backlash by writing a letter to the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Mark Moher. Register your outrage over this hunt and ask him to convey your views to the Canadian Government. The ambassador can be reached at 65 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.

Ex-Heritage Council member offers hare shooting advice

A former member of the Heritage Council's Wildlife Committee has offered advice in relation to killing hares.

The comments appeared in an article in the Irish Shooter's Digest magazine in April.

Outlining how he shot a hare during a day's shooting, Jimmy Dunne offered the following advice to readers: "My advice to you is never, ever shoot a hare unless you are near your car. They might be only about ten pounds weight but they are most awkward to carry, get heavier as you cross the bog, impede you as you try and jump drains, and seem to have gallons of blood to soak your clothes..."

Dunne was appointed to the Heritage Council Committee by then Minister for Arts and Heritage, Sile DeValera (Fianna Fail). At the time, ICABS expressed outrage at the appointment.

Campaigning materials

Can you help us spread the word about blood sport cruelty? The more people who get involved, the louder our campaigning voice will be.

Campaigning materials available include postcards, posters, petitions, leaflets, newsletters and a video. For more information, please get in touch with us now.

Stress and Capture Myopathy in Hares

Mike Rendle of the Irish Hare project reports on the threat posed to the Irish hare species by capture myopathy.

Capture myopathy (also known as post-capture myopathy, stress myopathy and transport myopathy) is a little-studied condition that has been recognised in a number of wild animals and domestic rabbits.

In recent years some work has been carried out in the context of hunting and coursing, where the use of dogs or snares cause high levels of trauma before death or capture. There is now compelling evidence that the well-being of hares, and ultimately their survival, is compromised by capture, handling and transport.

Welfare of an animal has been defined as "its state as regards its attempts to cope with its environment (Broom 1986; Broom & Johnson 1993). Thus welfare refers to the state of an animal at a specific time and can be good or poor irrespective of what people think about the moral or ethical use of the animal concerned. If the individual is having difficulty in coping with its environment, or is failing to cope, then its welfare is poor (Broom & Johnson 1993; Broom 1996).

Since this definition of welfare refers to the state of an animal, we should be able to use measurements of that state to indicate welfare and Bateson (1997) has argued that the animal should be given the benefit of the doubt as regards the existence of anxiety, suffering and pain.

Animal welfare science is a scientific discipline, which has developed rapidly in recent years. Much of the research has been carried out on domestic animals but the basic methodology is the same for all species including wild animals (Broom 1999).

Stress is the sum of the biological reactions to any adverse stimulus, internal or external, that tend to disturb the homeostasis of an organism. The need to minimise stress should be self-evident simply because of the problems related to it.

Stress alters the “normal” physiology of an animal and can induce a pre-pathological state. In a prolonged situation of stress, the pre-pathological state provides an opportunity for the development of pathologic change.

Stress is usually caused by excessive exertion or fear during translocation. The many unfamiliar events that occur during this procedure lead to both psychological stress as well as the physical stress of muscular exertion. This exertion may result in damage that can lead to development of a pathological state.

Capture myopathy is an important stress-induced condition, most frequently encountered in wild animals. It frequently occurs following prolonged and intense chases or manipulations. The proximate cause for capture myopathy is probably a combination of fear and anxiety accompanied by muscle exertion. Fear is the single most important factor in capture myopathy.

There are four categories of capture myopathy according to the way the condition presents itself. Peracute Capture Myopathy (death may occur suddenly or in a matter of minutes), Acute Capture Myopathy (this is a less severe form of the above with the animal lingering before death; death occurs in 24-48 hours), Sub-acute Capture Myopathy (again a less severe form of the above; death takes a few days) and Chronic Capture Myopathy (these animals live for several days or months but their ability to survive may be compromised).

The link between enclosed hare coursing and the factors responsible for capture myopathy is indisputable. In Great Britain and Ireland, the most common sufferers of capture myopathy in the wild mammal fraternity are deer and hares.

Rabbits, which are also members of the Leporidae family, may die suddenly when stressed or succumb to life threatening illness such as stress enteritis. Both hares and rabbits have been known to die of cardiac arrest brought on by stress or fear of being caught and it is likely that hare coursing or other hunting with dogs will cause very poor welfare in hares.

In Ireland, where enclosed hare coursing takes place, these outcomes are very apparent. The trauma has been documented by the coursers themselves. In “Some Thoughts on The Feeding and Management of Hares - The Abbeyfeale Experience”, the Irish Coursing Club’s veterinary surgeon, JJ O’Sullivan, states that:

“It is impossible to completely avoid stress in hares once you manhandle them, and take them out of their natural environment. Stress can come in many shapes and forms and as long as you have the hare in captivity, he is prone to it - resulting in his disability and even death at times. I believe a lot of damage can be done to hares by rough handling and netting.”

Mr O’Sullivan goes on to elaborate on causes of stress of netted hares as follows: “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.”

Jerry Desmond, Irish Coursing Club Chief Executive, is on record as saying “When hares get injured, they find it very difficult to recuperate from any form of injury.”

Dr Donald M Broom, Professor of Animal Welfare, University of Cambridge states that: “When a mammal like a hare is chased by a predator like a dog, it will show physiological changes associated with extreme fear. These include greatly elevated heart rate and high levels of emergency adrenal hormone production as well as other changes in hormone levels and enzymes.

“Extreme responses like those shown when chased by a predator can result in reduced life expectancy due to the immediate dangers of injury during very vigorous activity and greater risk of cardiovascular or other breakdown as a consequence of the response. We must conclude that, whether or not the hare is caught, its welfare is very poor during the chase and for periods afterwards which will be prolonged in some cases.”

In November 2002, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast carried out an 11-week study of eight Irish hares (Lepus timidus hibernicus) that had been netted, kept in captivity and used for enclosed coursing.

After coursing, radio-collars were attached and the animals were radio-tracked after release. All hares radio-collared were judged to be good condition by the attending veterinary surgeon.

During the study period two hares died, both within 11 days. Although one had been eaten, the cause of death of both specimens was not determined. Given that both hares were adults in good condition, the timescale and circumstances of the deaths are consistent with sub-acute or chronic capture myopathy.

It is widely acknowledged that Irish hare numbers are low and that they have become locally extinct in some areas. There is no evidence that hare coursing makes any positive contribution to Irish hares or their numbers. However, it continues to target those areas where the remaining vulnerable populations still exist. On balance, any activity that may result in capture myopathy, such as hare coursing, must be regarded as a threat to the species.

Mike Rendle has been an active environmentalist for over twenty years. He has a special interest in Ireland’s endangered mammals. An enthusiastic bat worker, Mike identified the newest mammal to be found in Ireland, the Nathusius’ pipistrelle. He is currently co-ordinating an initiative helping to conserve one of our oldest mammals, the Irish hare.

A longer version of this report (which includes references) can be found at: For more information about hares, visit “The Irish Hare” website at

Foxes are not a major cause of lamb losses

ICABS Director and County Limerick farmer, Dick Power, reports on the misportrayal of the fox as a threat to livestock.

Plastic jackets for lambs have recently been publicised as a form of protection against the elements - and against foxes.

Permit me to clarify that in the list of major causes of lamb mortality, foxes do not feature. A Department of Agriculture survey showed that 90 per cent of deaths are caused by abortion/still-birth, exposure/starvation and infectious disease.

Meanwhile, in educational material published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, it is stated that "No matter what people think, foxes seldom kill and eat lambs."

When it comes to exposure to the elements, the plastic jackets have indeed been shown to be effective in saving lambs.

In trials in New Zealand (where there are no foxes), 87 per cent of lambs without jackets died in overnight storms compared to just five per cent with the jackets.

Any excuse, however fantastic, is preferred to blaming ourselves for our losses, whether sheep, bovine or equine.

Dick Power at gate with farm building in background
“One of the first steps towards keeping herds and flocks healthy should be to ban hunting”: ICABS Director, Dick Power.

The farmer who won the UK Lambing Competition in 1962 had, in the preceding decade, gone to extraordinary lengths to prove that foxes rarely kill lambs.

He wrote: "During our investigations we discovered a strong link between bad shepherding and lamb losses blamed on foxes. The good farmer who fed his ewes well before lambing rarely complained of foxes. Simply because few lambs died."

In truth, foxes are not nearly as great a menace to livestock as the hunt clubs who hunt foxes with hounds.

In 2001, for example, some lamb plants reported more liver contamination because of a worm that uses the dog as a host than from liver fluke. We were warned that kennel dogs (i.e. hunt hounds) can be a problem in that respect.

Contamination of pastures by hunt hounds has also caused Sarcocystosis (an incurable brain disease of sheep) to spread widely among flocks.

Liver fluke, the greatest cause of losses on farms, needs the mud snail as intermediate host. Otherwise it dies. Hoof-prints are the favourite habitat of these mud snails and farmers are advised to fence off all areas likely to provide a habitat.

Because foxhunting on horseback is synonymous with hoof-prints and livestock losses, one of the first steps towards keeping herds and flocks healthy should be to ban hunting. This would certainly help to reduce the 200,000 ewes and half a million lambs that die every year in Ireland around lambing time.

ICABS wishes Dick a speedy recovery from his recent operation.

Keep foxhunts away from farm animals: Department advice

A letter received by ICABS from the office of Agriculture Minister, Joe Walsh, outlined that farmers should keep hunts off land where livestock is kept.

"The organisers of foxhunts require the permission of landowners on whose land they wish to hold the event," the letter stated. "A farmer whose lands are restricted should not give such consent and in the normal course should not allow foxhunts to traverse fields with livestock."

County Council urged to keep hunts off roads

A member of Offaly County Council has promised to look into what can be done to keep hunts off public roads in the county.

The move came following an appeal by ICABS for action to be taken to protect motorists from the dangers posed by hunts.

Our appeal was prompted by a disturbing letter to the editor which appeared in the Irish Farmers Journal in April.

The authors of the letter - a farming couple from Tullamore - explicitly outlined the "dangers that can arise" from allowing hunts access to land. What follows are extracts from their letter...

"The fact remains that our heifers were galloped onto the main road by horses, riders and hounds. The fact remains that a vet was called out to put down our heifers as they lay dying by the side of the road, and three people were injured in their car.

"The facts remain that (a) our dead heifers were removed from our property to a knackery, without our permission, (b) this hunt suggested to us that the incident be kept out of the local press/media because of embarrassment it might cause them [and] (c) this hunt attempted to apportion blame 50/50 with our insurance!"

"Farmers are intelligent people and will choose to have or not have hunts on their land," the letter concluded. "Having allowed hunting on our farm without hesitation, we were sorely awakened by the partial destruction of a paddock of heifers and only the luck of God prevented people from being killed on the main road that day."

ICABS has brought this incident to the attention of the National Safety Council and the Department of Transport.

Landowners who want more information about how to keep hunts off their property are invited to contact us for a free copy of our Troubled by the Hunt leaflet.

Challenge to hunting ban is rejected

Campaigners against blood sports have welcomed the decision by the Court of Session in Edinburgh to turn down an appeal that claimed the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The law that bans fox hunting, mink hunting, hare hunting and hare coursing in Scotland came into effect two years ago.

Phyllis Campbell-McRae of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said: "We are pleased by this ruling, but not surprised. Whether it is in Scotland, England or Wales, there is no human right to be cruel to animals. We now look forward to the early re-introduction of legislation to outlaw this barbaric practice throughout the rest of Britain."

Shocking badger kill figures are released
27,000 snared and killed by Department since mid-nineties

Agriculture Minister, Joe Walsh, has revealed that more than 27,000 badgers have been snared and killed by his Department since 1995.

The announcement was in response to a Dail Question from Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent.

The figures show that the number of badgers killed annually has more than tripled. In 1995, for example, around two thousand badgers were killed by so-called "snaring operatives". In 2002, the figure stood at a sickening 6,115.

The number of snaring licences being issued every year by Martin Cullen's Department of the Environment has also rocketed in the same period - from 337 to 810.

In a separate Dail Question, Green Party TD, Dan Boyle, asked Minister Walsh to comment on the "description of his Department's tuberculosis eradication scheme as a cruel slaughter of badgers masquerading as science".

"A multi-disciplined research programme involving staff from the Department, Teagasc and the universities is making significant progress in identifying improvements to the eradication programme," the Minister replied. "Significant progress is also being made on the development of a vaccine strategy for the badger population." ICABS is very dubious about this so-called vaccine for badgers which we have been hearing about for quite a number of years now. Will it ever see the light of day?

Please join us in calling for an end to this cruel and unnecessary assault on badgers. Contact us now for a petition and campaign postcard to send to Joe Walsh.

Spanish Minister criticises violence of bullfighting

Spain's Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona, has condemned bullfighting. In a recent interview, she compared the violence of bullfighting with domestic violence.

Her comments have angered bullfighting fans but have also won her praise from opponents of the blood sport

"It is very encouraging to us in our campaign to know that there are individuals in the Spanish Government who have the courage to speak out against this animal cruelty," ICABS stated in a letter to Minister Narbona.


Please write a positive message of congratulations to Minister Cristina Narbona. Encourage her to continue speaking out against bullfighting and to use her influence to help bring bullfighting to an end in Spain. You can contact her at: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz, s/n 28071, Madrid, Spain. Email:

Cristina Narbona
Minister Cristina Narbona: opposed to bullfighting

Bullfighting is rejected by Chinese

A proposal to bring bullfighting to China has been scrapped following a public outcry.

Initially announced in March by a Communist Party official, the plan aimed to bring more tourists to Beijing's Wildlife Park. But opposition from both within China and from around the world has led to the project being abandoned.

Quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Zhang Luping, head of the Beijing Human and Animal Environmental Education Center said: "This is a very significant victory. It shows that ordinary people's voices can be heard in China and that policies can be changed."

Campaigners now hope that this development will lead to new animal welfare laws being introduced in China.

New petition: End bullfights in Catalonia

New petitions have been launched in a bid to convince the Catalan Parliament to ban bullfights in the region.

Entitled "Fun Without Torture", the petition calls on the authorities to "promote and approve, within a short time, the modification of the Animal Protection Law, prohibiting the celebration of bullfights in Catalonia".

Those with access to the internet can sign this important petition at: Alternatively, visit the petitions section of the ICABS website for the relevant link.

If you would like to help us collect signatures for the petition, please get in touch with us for a paper version.

Seville bullring recommended by newspaper

Portugal's International Movement Against Bullfights is calling on campaigners to send a complaint to Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

Though acknowledging that "many people view bullfighting with something approaching revulsion", an article in the paper's April 25th edition listed a visit to a bullring as a must.

"The bullring in Seville is an architectural gem," it stated. "There is no better place in Spain to be initiated into the pageantry and drama of the corrida."

Direct complaints to The Editor, Scotland on Sunday, Barclay House, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 8AS. Tel: (0131) 620 8620. Fax: (0131) 620 8616. Email address:

Barcelona declared anti-bullfighting city

Barcelona City Council has voted in favour of declaring the city anti-bullfighting - a historic move that will increase pressure on the Catalan Parliament to introduce a regional ban on the blood sport. The decision to take a vote on the issue came following the presentation of nearly a quarter of a million anti-bullfighting petitions to the city's mayor. The petitions came from all over the world, including many from Ireland.

Thank you to all the ICABS supporters who signed and collected signatures for this important petition.

ICABS joins campaign co-ordinators WSPA and ADDA in welcoming this tremendous development. We hope that it marks the beginning of the end for bullfighting in Spain.

"April 6th 2004 was a great day in favour of the animals and of all the people who work for them," rejoiced ADDA President, Carmen Mendez. "The result was 21 votes in favour of an anti-bullfighting Barcelona, 15 against and 2 abstentions. This is a significant step towards the abolishment of bullfighting in Spain because, even if Barcelona City Council doesn't have any legal resource to prohibit bullfighting, we now have enough weight to request this prohibition from the Catalan Parliament which has the legal power to take such a decision. This way, bullfighting wouldn't be abolished only in Barcelona but also in all Catalonia. With Spain being divided into 17 local governments, we hope that other local governments will take the same decision."

In a message to ICABS supporters, he added: "In the name of ADDA and WSPA, we really want to thank you all for your help and support which have been very important to reach this huge number of signatures and letters, which has strongly influenced the City Hall's decision."

ICABS renews our appeal to Irish holidaymakers in Spain, Portugal, France and other bullfighting countries to please boycott the bullrings and avoid purchasing any bullfight-related souvenirs.

Spanish bullfights should be banned: Irish travel writer

In a travel article in the Irish Independent in January, Conor Caffrey wrote:

"Bullfighting is definitely the cruellest sport in Iberia and akin to foxhunting in Britain in its controversy. It is a medieval and macabre gladiatorial event with humans, bulls and horses all putting their life in mortal danger in the name of entertainment. Those who oppose bullfighting have their merited arguments and really it should be banned.

"The final act of the killing of the bull is a ritual and it does grasp the fierce attention of the spectators. In my one visit to a bullfight I saw none of these nuances and just the bloodshed."

Sky defends matador advert

This is part of the newspaper advertisement which Sky TV is defending as a harmless, light-hearted portrayal of bullfighting. ICABS wrote to the company in April, asking them to withdraw the offensive advert. We outlined how "most respectable companies would do everything possible to distance themselves from one of the world's most barbaric activities."

Replied Sky spokesperson, Karen Hames: "Our cartoon couple clearly enjoy each other's company and this seems to us to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from endorsing the conflict and barbarity of a bull-fight...We are sorry that you found the advert offensive, but hope you now understand the context and intention behind it.

ICABS will never accept any positive portrayal of blood sports.

Matador and bull sitting on couch
The Sky advert's cartoon couple.

Campaign against fur farming intensifying

The campaign against fur farming in Ireland is now gathering momentum, writes Sinead O'Brien of Compassion in World Farming.

CIWF and the UK's Respect for Animals have launched a disturbing new video showing undercover footage filmed on fox and mink fur farms in Ireland.

Fur farming involves the keeping of mink and foxes in rows of cramped, barren, wire mesh cages in which their natural behaviour is very severely impeded.

In the wild, fox and mink are highly complex territorial animals. Mink are semi-aquatic and choose home ranges of 1-6km, always near water. Arctic and red fox (both of which are farmed in Ireland - the red fox in its silver colour variant) roam over wide territories, with Arctic foxes often migrating more than 100km in one season, travelling to the Arctic coastline and onto ice flows in search of food.

It is a far cry from the wretched 6-month-life of incarceration mink and fox have to endure on Irish fur farms. Unlike other farm animals, these animals are essentially wild. They have been selectively bred for pelt quality rather than for adaptation to captivity.

Fox in cramped cage
Confined to a cage, this unfortunate fox is one of thousands forced to endure a life of misery on Ireland’s fur farms. (Photo © Respect for Animals)

The serious animal welfare problems associated with fur farming have been well documented. They include fox and mink performing repeated, meaningless behaviour, such as pacing around their cage over and over again, caged fox killing their young and farmed mink biting and sucking their own fur or even self-mutilating their tails and limbs.

Viewers of RTE's Prime Time recently were horrified to discover that not only is this practice still legal in Ireland but that fox farms do not even require a licence. Fur farming became illegal in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK on 1st January 2003. The Republic of Ireland must be next.

CIWF are therefore delighted with the publishing in February of the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004 by the Green Party.

This is a very positive first step in the legislative process and sets down in writing for the first time the legal wording for a ban.

However, the support of the government is required for this Bill to pass through several stages in the Dail and Seanad and ultimately to become law.

Fur farming is of negligible value to the Irish economy, produces a non-essential fashion product, and causes untold suffering, frustration and distress. Help us to make sure the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004 becomes law and stops fur farming in this country forever.


Please write to all your local TDs (either at their local constituency offices or at Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2) and ask them to support this Bill.

Also please write to Joe Walsh, Minister for Agriculture & Food, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Call on him to enact a ban on fur farming, either by supporting the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004 or by introducing similar legislation himself.

Visit for more information on this campaign.

Blooding at County Louth greyhound track denied

The management of Dundalk greyhound racing track deny that a staff member at their track had been fired because of allegations related to early morning blooding sessions at the track.

No specific reason was given by the manager of the track, other than that he was "unhappy with his work".

Blooding is an illegal practice whereby hares, rabbits and kittens are thrown to greyhounds to tear apart. Many believe that without being introduced to the kill and getting the taste of blood, greyhounds would be less enthusiastic about chasing the mechanical lure in greyhound racing or the live lure in coursing.

In an article on June 8th, Irish Independent sports journalist and greyhound racing commentator, John Martin, wrote that there were allegations of 6am trials at the track and the use of live hares to blood greyhounds for licensed track trainers.

The Dundalk track, which is licensed by Bord na gCon, is thought to have received grants between €4 million and €12 million (taxpayers' money). Management at the track say the figure is €4 million but Bord na gCon contend that it was up to €12 million to build a new track.

During an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee meeting in April, Bord na gCon's Chief Executive said that blooding is not condoned. However, responding to a statement from Green TD Dan Boyle that it could happen without their knowledge, he conceded that "anything can happen without one's knowledge".

Blooding in the Irish greyhound industry was best summed up by John Martin in 1994. His frank and shocking article followed an infamous blooding case in Tipperary, when investigative journalist, Donal McIntyre, filmed greyhounds being blooded with live rabbits at a private track.

In the article, Martin stated that "the bald truth is that greyhound racing would not continue to exist without blooding. It follows that, with a constant greyhound population of close on 30,000, blooding must be widespread."


Demand a Dail committee of inquiry into all aspects of the greyhound industry and a suspension of all government grant aid in the interim. Please contact Minister John O'Donoghue (who has responsibility for the greyhound industry) at: Department of Arts, "Sports" and Tourism, Frederick Buildings, South Frederick St, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-631 3802. Email:

Donegal track tops dog doping league

Bord na gCon have admitted a greyhound doping problem within the industry according to a report in the Irish Independent in May.

The admission came during the board's appearance at an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee meeting. They also had to admit that they were badly behind schedule in dealing with greyhound doping offences.

Lifford greyhound racing track had the highest number of positive results to tests for illegal drugs for dogs, the committee was told. Of the 79 cases of drugged greyhounds detected last year at tracks around the country, Lifford came out on top with 17 positives.

Claiming that the worst offenders are in Northern Ireland, Bord na gCon attributed the high number of offences at Lifford to the presence of dogs which originate from across the border. Drug testing is less stringent in the North, they said.

The Public Accounts Committee were taken aback when the Bord na gCon representatives told them that its disciplinary body had not yet dealt with the 79 cases. Not surprising really, considering that the members of the disciplinary body had just been appointed the day before the Public Accounts hearing!

The PAC also heard how a staggering €50,000 was paid to consultants, Price Waterhouse Coopers, for a three year investigation into the purchase of a new generator at Shelbourne greyhound track (estimated to have cost €70,000) and which was discovered not to be new.

And in a further, more deeply embarrassing revelation, it was highlighted how a Bord na gCon official had placed "substantial" bets on two greyhounds which subsequently tested positive for drugs.

"There is no suggestion that the official knew in advance that the greyhounds had been drugged to ensure that they would win the races which took place on the same card," wrote John Martin in his Irish Independent Dog Chat column.

Blood sport opposition has Catholic tradition

Opposing the cruelty involved in hunting is in line with a substantial Catholic tradition, writes Deborah Jones of Catholic Concern for Animals.

Kindness, not cruelty, to animals is a heritage of the Desert Fathers, Celtic saints, St Francis, Philip Neri and many others who anticipated in their treatment of animals the glorious restoration of paradise as described in Isaiah's vision (Chapter 11).

Simply put, cruelty to animals is, as Bishop Bellord stated in A New Catechism of 1901, a "very cowardly and disgraceful sin". More recently, the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us that, as animals are God's creatures, we owe them kindness, and should recall the gentleness with which saints treated them.

Whereas, as with the rest of nature, we might make use of them, our "dominion over other living things" is "not absolute" (n.2415) nor "to be an arbitrary and destructive domination" (n.373).

We cannot treat them just as we like. There is the aspect of our "stewardship" over them - by which we are to reflect the manner of governance of the Creator himself. Made in His image, human beings have to reflect that image as they go about caring for His world.

Christ, the one true image, dwelt at peace with the wild animals during his 40 days in the wilderness - just as he brought peace and harmony to the natural order in miracles to give a glimpse of what heaven is like. Is that commensurate with hunting?

Dutch theologian, Dr Marie Hendrickx, of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith considers that "we must repeat with the Catechism that man is not justified in 'causing animals to suffer needlessly'. He should therefore refrain from doing so if he can avoid it, or if there are no serious reasons for doing so."

Hunting foxes is not an unavoidable necessity, and there is an alternative. The excitement of a bracing, dangerous ride can be enjoyed over a course skilfully set by people with a scented drag, or after volunteer harriers running before the pack. What is missing would be the kill.

Human dignity is surely compromised by the pleasure displayed by members and followers of a hunt at the grisly kill. Without foxhunting, no one would have their faces blooded as an initiation rite; no fox's face would be presented by the Master to the first man at the kill, or brush (fox's tail) to the first woman, or the four footpads to the first four children. None of that barbarism.

Hunting, called by the poet William Cowper, a "detested sport that owes its pleasures to another's pain", has, in the words of one former Master of Hounds, Robert Churchward, "absolutely no justification - moral or otherwise".

Is that freedom "of the human person" to hunt of sufficient weight to support its continuation as a legal right? Catholic tradition and teaching would suggest not. Ban it - totally and completely.

The Catholic Concern for Animals website can be found at:

Dalai Lama issues anti-hunt statement

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has stated that hunting for sport is contrary to the teachings of the Buddhist religion.

He was making a particular appeal for a cessation of trophy hunting in Mongolia, where safaris are being promoted to kill snow leopards, Bactrian camels and other species.

"I am deeply saddened to learn that Mongolia encourages trophy hunting of rare and endangered species for tourism," the Dalai Lama wrote.

"We all know that taking others' lives is generally against the Buddhist principles. How can we destroy and play with the lives of animals merely for fun, pleasure and sports? It is unthinkable."

"Tibet, as a Buddhist country, in the past had banned hunting of animals in any form," the exiled leader added.

Foxhunt priests are committing a "serious sin"

A homily given by Bishop Pat Buckley in Larne has condemned those who hurt animals for sport.

"To hurt or neglect an animal unnecessarily or for sport or fun is immoral and quite simply, in God's eyes, it is a very serious sin," Bishop Buckley stated.

He went on to make particular reference to two Catholic priests in Clare and Cavan who are involved in foxhunting.

"For sport and fun, these priests went out with their hunt colleagues and packs of dogs. They chased wild foxes until they dropped and watched as the hounds pulled the poor creatures to bits. What a leisure recreation for a priest. I think it is a strange pastime for any Christian man or woman."

"God created the animal kingdom and God loves that which he has created," he added. "When God revealed the 10 Commandments, he didn't say 'Thou shalt not kill humans', he simply said 'Thou shalt not kill'. In the book of Genesis, God charged Adam and Eve (and through them, all of us) to be stewards of creation and the custodians of animals."

Bishop Pat Buckley writes a weekly column in the Irish News of the World.

Silence from bishops on blood sports

Despite repeated requests over the past year, it remains unclear what the bishops of Ireland said about blood sports at their summer 2003 meeting.

It was confirmed to ICABS that the issue was definitely discussed but although we were told that "a short statement will probably be issued in September 2003", the specifics of the meeting have never been revealed.

Supporters will recall that the discussion came following ongoing complaints from ICABS relating to members of the clergy:

* attending coursing meets,
* partaking in foxhunts and/or
* blessing hunt hounds.

ICABS will continue to press the Catholic Communications Office to reveal what was said at the meeting. We will also continue to call for a church ban on members of the clergy involving themselves in blood sports and other forms of cruelty to animals.


Please urge the Catholic Communications Office to clarify the Catholic Church's policy regarding members of the clergy partaking in blood sport activities. Mr Martin Long, Director, Catholic Communications Office, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co Kildare. Tel: 01 505 3000 Fax: 01 601 6413 Email:

Mercy for animals: Bush speechwriter

A speechwriter for US President, George Bush, has called on religious people to show more mercy towards animals.

Quoted in the Washington Post in May, Matthew Scully said: "Religious people...hold a kind and merciful view of life, the faith of the broken, the hounded, the hopeless. Yet too often, they will not extend that spirit to our fellow creatures."

Author of the 2002 book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy", Scully also believes that "it is wrong to inflict needless cruelty on animals for profit and to use wildlife and farm animals as 'resources' no different from wood and steel."

Although the president does not embrace these views, Scully has been described by the US Humane Society as "a hero to animal advocates [who has] a positive impact".

Priests spotted at Clonmel coursing

A Sunday World journalist has reported the presence of priests at the national coursing finals in Clonmel in February.

"I spotted a couple of priests in the crowd and was surprised when a seasoned campaigner told me that the clergy are huge into [coursing]," wrote Amanda Brunker.

ICABS finds it disgraceful that these priests - who are supposed to be setting a good example to their parishioners - find it appropriate to support animal cruelty events.

We have brought this to the attention of the Catholic Communications Office and reminded them that paragraph 2418 of the Catechism states that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly."

Bramble: The story of a rescued badger cub

In March 2004, Badger Watch Ireland welcomed an adorable little visitor to their headquarters in Waterford. The badger cub, just a few weeks old, had recently been orphaned and was in need of some urgent attention.

Badger Watch's National Co-ordinator, Bernie Barrett, took responsibility for the care of the cub and there began the intensive process of keeping the delicate creature alive and directing him slowly back towards the wild again.

What follows is Bernie's account of her experiences with the badger who became affectionately known as Bramble...

Bramble was about 2-3 weeks old when he was brought here ten weeks ago. He was found abandoned in a field. His mother may have been killed on the road or their sett may have been deliberately destroyed.

He was so tiny that he had to be fed on a bottle normally used for orphaned kittens. He was fed every 2-3 hours, including during the night. Badgers are allergic to cow's milk so a replacement (Lactol) was used. He was weighed daily. Feeds were reduced when he was big enough to take the regular baby bottle.

Close-up photograph of badger's head and paw
Rescued badger cub, Bramble, relaxes against Bernie’s arm. (Photo: Andrew Kelly)

Bramble (reluctantly) started taking solid food when he was 8 weeks old. Badgers are omnivores so they can eat almost anything. His usual meal in the evening consists of dry dog food soaked in warm water. Because he's still very young, it may be too strong for him so rice crispies are added. He'll take most fruits, vegetables and also cereals, pasta, eggs, bread, etc. His favourite treats are chocolate (badgers are very sweet-toothed), sausages and tomatoes but his diet is varied from day to day.

The skin of cubs becomes very dry and may break so Bramble was covered in baby oil every day.

Bramble now weighs 12.05lbs but that may increase to about 3 stone when he's a fully grown boar.

In the wild, his diet will consist mainly of earthworms. Badgers will eat about 200 earthworms in a night's foraging. They also eat beetles, slugs and all types of insects and small rodents. Badgers are nocturnal animals and are rarely seen in daylight.

Bramble is now ready to go to his new home in the country where other Badger Watch members will care for him. There, he'll be prepared for returning to the wild. He'll be walked regularly and familiarised with the territory around his new home. Human contact will be kept to a minimum and one person only will have responsibility for caring for him.

When autumn arrives he'll be free to come and go as he pleases. The decision to remain will be his.

Badger Watch (Ireland) was founded in 1989 and campaigns for the protection and conservation of Ireland's badger species. It is an NGO funded by subscriptions/donations from its members. Website:

Bernie holding Bramble in her two hands
Bernie Barrett with Bramble. (Photo: Andrew Kelly)

Things they said: Campaign quotes from the past few months

"The Carbery Hunt paid their annual visit to Butlerstown on Saturday last...Near Seacourt Pound a fine dog fox was first up, which took the pack eastwards behind Butlerstown village, down through Ballyangley and on to Shanagh where he met his doom...In all a most exciting and pleasurable day's hunting." (The Southern Star, 31st January 2004).

"...a fox can keep ducking in and out of close-knit coverts so it is a case of getting your hounds close on a fox so that you give him no respite and keep him on the move." (The Irish Field, 3rd January 2004).

"We hunted a fox as fast as we could go for 1 hour and 20 minutes. All the time we could hardly keep the hounds in sight as the snow was falling so heavily." A foxhunter describing his "best hunt" outing. (The Irish Field, 31st January 2004).

"Here we got a marvellous view of a smallish dark red fox with a good white tag crossing the winter barley, all in the winter sunshine. Hounds were only seconds behind..." (From a report on the Coolnakilla Harriers, The Irish Field, 10th January 2004).

"Probably one of the most enjoyable hunts was on foot last year when we had a joint-meet with Macroom Foot Foxhounds at Tullylease on St Patrick's Day. We had a run of about 14 miles as the fox just ran on and on." (The Irish Field, 7th February 2004).

"The pack [Bray Harriers] went over to draghunting due to the increase in fast roads and built-up areas." (The Irish Field, 14th February 2004).

"Foot followers stayed with the three couple of hounds and got a great view of a smashing red fox as he crossed the Cullenagh Road. He wasn't exactly rushing and took a minute to look back to see where the hounds were. Little did he know that they had accounted for [killed] one of his relations on the way and now had him in their sights." (Report on the Limerick Harriers Hunt, Irish Field, 21st February 2004).


Bloody Trails
by John Amsden

Riotous heralding of thund'ring slayers
In train with the yelping of the forward-
Driven hounds, bounding and jumping
With servants the players
Their message and clamour relayed
In the woodlands or ditches and dykes
In field and in hedgerow where the few
Hide from the furious ride where
so many dismayed.

In minutes or hours the screams will go
In bloodletting done on the yet bloody scene
In silent suffering the shame is not there
For the death and agonies much piteous slow
And as the sun goes down
there are few to mourn
Only the animals cannot understand more
For they know instruments of torture are in
Human hands and theirs is the
grief of each shining morn.

by John Amsden

Far now the blood sodden ground
Where the lives of many found
Their sanctuary in years a'bye
But now the sound of hooves will sound

And the horn blast sound
And crack of whips are bound
For earth barely browned
In no leaf gowned

And as the light filters in the wood
The screams and yelps do not resound
In the hush of evening gone
Their suffering is not understood

Nature erased for "the common good"
Soon the sward where these trees stood
A bare coffin where bare a bird does hop
Or chant a memory lost,
a ghost where grief is but absurd.

from Red Coats by Frank Murphy

The sound of horses' hooves
Bridles, snorts and shouts
The creak of leather.

Red Coats
Running along the country lane
Strung out in autumn sunshine
The colour of
blood filing past.

Coca-Cola to remove banner from bullring

Further to appeals from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports and Anti Bullfighting Committee Netherlands, Coca-Cola have announced that an advertisement banner will be removed from a Spanish bullring.

The banner was photographed at Barcelona's last remaining bullfighting venue, La Monumental.

In a letter to Coca-Cola's UK office in April, ICABS wrote: "We hope that Coca-Cola will remove this banner and disassociate itself from a venue of animal cruelty. It would be a very welcome move, particularly at a time when campaigners all over the world are celebrating Barcelona City Hall's recent declaration that the city is now an anti-bullfighting city."

ICABS is delighted to report that Coca-Cola have reacted positively to our appeal.

"The banner belongs to our bottling partners Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd and the agreement is between them and the stadium rather than the organisers of bullfighting," stated Consumer Information Manager, Bernice Sayer. "However, the Coca-Cola Company has a policy in force stating that our operations would not associate itself where there is a risk of physical harm to animals, and therefore I have asked that the banner be removed during bullfighting events."

ICABS thanks the Coca-Cola Company for this response.

Banner hanging from balcony in bullring
Monumental victory: The advertisement banner which Coca-Cola promise to have removed during bullfighting in La Monumental. (Photo: Saskia Oskam)

Madonna and bird shooting

The Sunday Express has revealed that Madonna has been allowing shooting parties to take place on her 1,100 acre country estate in Wiltshire, England.

Shoots cost £10,000 per day and those taking part are permitted by Madonna and husband, Guy Ritchie, to shoot 300 birds per day.

Madonna has reportedly taken private shooting lessons so that she can accompany Ritchie on the shoots. Celebrity guests to have visited the estate to gun down birds include Brad Pitt and courser, Vinnie Jones.

Your subscriptions are vital

A big thank you to all our supporters who sent in annual subscriptions and donations following the last edition of Animal Voice in January.

We very much want to stay in touch with all subscribers on our database in order to keep you all informed about our campaign issues. To do this, we need your subs coming in to cover the cost of printing, postage, and indeed our campaign in general.

Please continue to support us. If your subscription is due, please consider renewing it. Your subscription renewal date appears above your name and address on the envelope.

Subscriptions and/or donations will be very much appreciated. You may wish, for convenience, to pay by standing order. A standing order form is enclosed along with the standard subscription form.

If your subscription is not yet due for renewal, please consider passing on the enclosed forms to a friend. Thank you.


Animal Voice is published by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Tel/Fax: 044-49848. Email: . Website: Editorial Team: Philip Kiernan and Aideen Yourell. Layout and Design: Philip Kiernan. Contributors: John Amsden, Bernie Barrett, Deborah Jones, Andrew Kelly, Philip Kiernan, Frank Murphy, Sinead O'Brien, Saskia Oskam, Dick Power, Mike Rendle, Aideen Yourell. Please pass Animal Voice on to a friend when you are finished with it. Thank you.

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