Animal Voice, Summer 2004
Section 3 - Pages 15-21

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.

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