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Shocking BBC report exposes deerhunt
9th February 2005

A shocking BBC Newsline report by Rural Affairs Correspondent, Martin Cassidy, has exposed the activities of a deerhunt in County Down. The report, which can be viewed from the Newsline Website shows harrowing scenes of a stag desperately running for its life.

Broadcast on Tuesday, February 8th, the report focussed on a hunt in County Down who were shown chasing a deer with a pack of hounds. The stag, in a desperate attempt to outrun the dogs, was filmed:

  • fleeing across a field of sheep with the hounds in pursuit
  • jumping a wall and running through the garden of a house
  • forcing its way through a narrow gap in a thorny hedge

Reporter Martin Cassidy described the deer as being "driven by fear". With the hounds closing in, he noted that when they chase an animal of this size, "they'll wait until it's completely exhausted".

Ulster SPCA spokesperson Stephen Philpott condemned the hunt as cruel.

"The animal is pursued over a great distance by one of its most feared predators - a pack of hounds. That animal is chased and pursued until exhuastion takes over and it can no longer run any further."

Responding to claims that the stag is not killed at the end of the hunt, he stated: "It's only when complete exhaustion takes over that the hunt ends. The animal, throughout that entire process, is stressed. Lots of research has been done on it and has proved the animal is stressed. By the very definition of the Welfare of Animals Act, it is causing unnecessary suffering. Therefore, it's cruel."

Following the broadcast of the report, the BBC say they were flooded with comments, most of which were from disgusted viewers. Among the comments published on the Newsline Website were:

  • "I was appalled and disgusted to see such a barbaric thing happen to the animals in the name of sport."

  • "I am disgusted at the prospect of more hunting in the province. There is enough violence in Northern Ireland and hunting only adds to it. It is such a bad example to set for young children."

  • "Stag hunting is a cruel abomination. It was banned in England following an outcry when reports were received of stags breaking their legs trying to leap high walls, falling down ravines and drowning in fast flowing rivers having failed to cross."

  • "I am very much against stag hunting. A few years ago they showed the chasing of a stag into a bog, a marshy ground. The stag was caught in it. They couldn't get it out with man power and had to use a tractor to pull it out. The stag was in a bad state. It sickens me."

  • "Absolute disgrace - should be stopped immediately. The arrogance of these people is nauseating. The excuse offered that this is all about moving the stag on and that the stag is allowed to go free is pathetic. It shows no concern for the trauma that the animal has been put through, not to mention the frightening experience to which other animal life is subjected - farm animals, wildlife etc."

  • "Thanks for having the courage to show the appalling chasing of a stag by dogs in Co Down. There can be no justification for humans to subject an animal to such stress and pain for their entertainment."

BBC Reporter, Martin Cassidy
"The stag is driven by fear...ten minutes [after the start of the hunt], this stag is already flagging. It tries to use its jumping ability to evade the chasing pack but the hounds are hard on its heels. The dogs will not move in yet. Chasing an animal of this size, they'll wait until it's completely exhausted." (BBC Rural Affairs Correspondent, Martin Cassidy)

ICABS condems County Down deerhunting

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has joined the many others in condemning the deerhunt scenes shown on BBC Newsline. In an interview on BBC Radio, ICABS director, Aideen Yourell, called for an all-Ireland ban on deer hunting with hounds. She reminded listeners that the blood sport is already illegal in Scotland and soon to be banned in England and Wales.

The BBC's disturbing footage is reminiscent of video images captured by ICABS during Ward Union carted deer hunts. Operating in Counties Meath and Dublin, the Ward Union chases captive-bred, domesticated deer until the deer are so exhausted they can no longer run. During the hunts, the deer suffer injuries (including fatal injuries) and are at risk of dying from stress-related heart failure.

For more information on our campaign against this blood sport, please visit our Campaigns page.

More Information: Carted Deer Hunting

What is carted deer hunting?
Read our information leaflet to find out more

Latest News - Carted Deer Hunting:
Latest Dail Questions from Tony Gregory (2nd February 2005)
Controversial deerhunt licence revealed (08 December 2004)
Priest plugs cruel hunt (31 August 2004)
ICABS launches campaign postcards (12 August 2004)
Animal Voice Newsletter - Summer 2004 Edition (30 July 2004)
Minister questioned about legality of Ward Union (23 March 2004)
Star Sunday exposes millionaire members of hunt (14 March 2004)
Kane report damning of Ward Union (11 March 2004)
Deerhunt plea to Garda Commissioner and Minister for Justice (11 March 2004)
Carted Deer Hunting: New leaflet launched (10 March 2004)
Carted Deer Hunting: Latest Images (10 March 2004)
Government "subverting protection of animals legislation" (04 March 2004)

Ban Carted Deer Hunting Website:
For more information on carted deer hunting (along with images and video clips), please visit our Ban Carted Deer Hunting website at:

Visit our Petitions page to print out and sign a "Ban Blood Sports in Ireland" petition.

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