Two deer hounded to death during Ward Union hunt
Controversial hunt may be “highly illegal”: Senior NPWS official
30 November 2005
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has learned that two deer were hounded to their deaths by the Ward Union hunt during the 2004-05 season. The controversial Meath-based hunt, which uses domesticated deer as quarry, is headed up by builder Michael Bailey of Flood Tribunal infamy.
The deer deaths were recorded in a Department of Agriculture report obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act. A veterinary inspector from the Department highlighted in the report how one deer died from fractured ribs while another died from a ruptured aortic aneurism.
Meanwhile, a senior National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) official has stated that he “strongly opposes” the licensing of the hunt. Jim Moore, the NPWS Regional Manager in whose area the Ward Union operate, expressed his belief that since the deer used are not wildlife, Minister Dick Roche should not license the hunt.
In a memo to NPWS HQ (obtained by ICABS under the FOI Act), Mr Moore stated: "...I believe the Ward Union Hunt Club hunt deer that are not wild animals and as such are not the subject of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000." He further went on to state that "there is a perception amongst certain NGOs etc that the National Parks & Wildlife Service is conveniently being used and is agreeing to license something which otherwise may be highly illegal. I do not wish to be associated with such perception and I urge you to consider carefully the implications of issuing this licence, the granting of which I strongly oppose."
This is the second consecutive year that Mr Moore has objected to the granting of the licence. Yet, despite this, Dr Alan Craig, the NPWS Director who advises Minister Dick Roche, continues to assert that the Minister may grant a licence under the Wildlife Act to hunt these farm-bred deer, citing the fact the word "wild" is not mentioned in Section 26 (which provides for licensing the hunting of deer with a pack dogs). In the Wildlife Act 2000 Amendment, however, a wild animal is clearly defined as "primarily living independent of human husbandry".
The Ward Union deer are bred in captivity and are kept in paddock-type enclosures in Dunshaughlin. They are maintained and fed, similar to farm animals. ICABS believes that they are clearly not wild animals and indeed the Ward Union themselves have admitted this. In a document submitted to the Heritage Council as part of a Wildlife Act review, the Ward Union made the following statement: "As the WU deer are bred and maintained in a private enclosed deer park and looked after by a team of experts, they could not accurately be described as wildlife".
ICABS has called for a Garda investigation into the hounding to death of the two deer last season. We contend that the Ward Union hunt is in breach of the 1911 Protection of Animals Act by terrorising and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Please write to Minister Dick Roche and demand an end to carted deer hunting in Ireland. Urge him to give a commitment that no further licences will be issued to the Ward Union.
Minister Dick Roche
Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Dear Minister Roche,
I am writing to ask why you granted another licence to the Ward Union despite a NPWS recommendation that this hunt should not receive a licence.
Due to the injury and death caused to domesticated deer by the Ward Union, I implore you to immediately revoke their licence and to give a commitment that no further licence applications will be considered.
Thank you. I look forward to your reply.
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