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"Pure evil": the use of terriers in blood sports
23 March 2006

The use of terriers in blood sports has been condemned by the Sunday Mirror as "pure evil". The newspaper highlighted how two severely injured terriers were found abandoned close to a badger sett in Kilkenny after men were chased from a field. The dogs - one which had sustained facial wounds - were reportedly being used to pull badgers from below ground.

The gruesome discovery was made on farmland in Muckalee in north County Kilkenny. Alongside the dogs was a spade which, it is believed, was being used to dig away earth to expose the badgers.

Badger baiting involves sending terriers below ground to viciously attack badgers. While the badger engages in a vicious fight for survival against the dogs, men with spades dig down into the earth to expose the animals, all of which will sustain injuries. Once out in the open, a fight to the death ensues.

Describing badger baiting as "pure savagery", local ISPCA inspector, Noel O'Donoghue was quoted in the Mirror article as saying: "The badger is a protected species. It is a lovely animal and it is illegal to harm it. But even in the cases of foxes it is nothing but cruelty to force a fight to the death. Foxes are not protected, they are still considered vermin but they do not deserve to be mutilated either for the enjoyment of cruel hunters."

An integral part of foxhunting with hounds, the use of terriers to attack foxes is an equally appalling activity. When the pack of hounds chase a fox into an earth, the hunt's terriermen are called in to oversee the cowering creature's destruction. Similar to badger baiting, terriers are sent underground to attack the fox and this can result in injuries to both dogs and fox. Also similar to badger baiting, shovels and spades are used to dig down to where the squeals of pain are emanating. (Footage showing this disgusting cruelty can be seen in the Videos section of the ICABS website).

Due to the fact that the law currently fails to protect foxes from dig-outs and terrier-work, those caught badger baiting often claim that they were after foxes. This can make it difficult to secure a successful prosecution if brought before a court. It is essential, therefore, to protect all animals from this brutality.

ICABS has this week urged the Minister for the Environment to amend the Wildlife Act to make it illegal to dig any animal out of the ground or to send terriers underground to attack wildlife. We have also appealed to the Agriculture Minister (who has responsibility for the Protection of Animals Act) to act to protect foxes. Please help by responding to our action items below.

Injured dog
One of the injured dogs found abandoned close to a badger sett in County Kilkenny. (Photo: The Kilkenny Voice)

Action Items

1. Report badger baiting to Gardai

If you have any information about badger baiting activities, please contact the Gardai immediately. The phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland can be found at Alternatively, contact your local National Parks and Wildlife Service conservation ranger (phone numbers and email addresses available from the NPWS - or telephone 01-8882000 / LoCall 1890-202021).

2. Appeal to the Environment Minister

Please contact Minister Dick Roche who has responsibility for the Wildlife Act. Urge him to amend the Wildlife Act so that foxes are given full protection from the cruelty of hunting with hounds. Send a copy of your correspondence to your local TDs and ask them to help protect wildlife.

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

Tel: 01-8882403
Fax: 01-8788640

Sample Letter
(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 wish to bring to your attention the following extract from the Sunday Independent of 1st January 2006 and to appeal to you to amend the Wildlife Act to give full protection to foxes from foxhunt cruelty.

"I saw a vixen run into her lair. The terriers were sent down to drag her out. They pulled out her cubs instead - in pieces. Their bodies were torn in half, the upper half of one still conscious and squealing. One of the hunters had to stamp on it a good few times before it was put out of its misery. The vixen came back up to defend her cubs and the hounds tore her to pieces as well. All this was after a two-hour chase. The poor vixen had been run, literally, into the ground. Her death was not quick either."

Badgers are thankfully protected from this terrier-work but foxes have no protection. The use of terriers is integral to foxhunting and occurs when foxes desperately run underground in a bid to avoid the pack of hounds. As I'm sure you would agree, subjecting any animal to this barbarity is appalling and needs to be urgently outlawed. I implore you, as Minister with responsibility for the Wildlife Act, to take action to make terrier-work and the digging out of foxes illegal.

Thank you. I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

3. Appeal to the Minister for Agriculture

Please join us in appealing to the Minister for Agriculture, Mary Coughlan, to give wild animals the same protection that is given to domestic animals. Tell the Minister that since all animals are capable of suffering, all animals should be protected from cruelty. Urge her to amend the Protection of Animals Act so that foxes and all wild creatures are protected from cruelty.

Minister Mary Coughlan
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2

Tel: 01-6072000
Lo-call 1890-200510

Terrierwork Cruelty: Photos

Dead dog at badger sett
This dead dog was found buried next to a dug-up badger sett some years ago. It was most likely fatally wounded during an organised badger baiting session. The matter was reported to the authorities. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Foxhunt terriermen at fox earth
When a fox goes to ground during a hunt, the hunt's terriermen send a terrier underground to viciously drag the fox out into the open where it will be killed.

Foxhunt terrier biting into a fox's head
A terrier biting into the head of a squealing fox. The foxhunt terrierman is seen here pulling the dog and the fox out of a hole. Incredibly, this barbarity is currently legal in Ireland.

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