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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.

Action Item

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
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1

Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640

(Please compose your own personal letter if possible. If you do not have time to do this, please send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

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.

Yours sincerely,


More Information: Carted Deer Hunting

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

Related News - Carted Deer Hunting:
Deer hunt licensed for 2005-06 season (21 September 2005)
Deer hunt given licence despite NPWS advice (Animal Voice - March 2005)
Tony Gregory questions licensing of Ward Union (15th February 2005)
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 sign a "Ban Blood Sports in Ireland" petition.

Photos: Carted Deer Hunting

Deer being dragged from farmyard
An exhausted deer with blood in its mouth is dragged from a County Meath farmyard towards a livestock trailer at the end of a Ward Union hunt.

Terrified deer being wrestled to the ground in field
An exhausted and terrified deer is wrestled head first into the ground at the end of a Ward Union Hunt.

Bleeding and injured deer
A bleeding deer at the end of a Ward Union hunt. The deer has an injury on top of its head and its tongue is hanging out as it pants for breath. The creature is being held in place by hunters - one is grabbing its ear and mouth.

Deer slipping next to a farmyard gate
A deer slips and falls to the ground after being chased into a County Meath farmyard by Ward Union hunters and hounds.

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