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Appalling hunt cruelty: Fox forced to swim for its life
15 February 2008

A fox being chased by a pack of hunt hounds was forced to swim across a canal twice in a desperate bid to try and save its life. ICABS has asked landowners to help protect wildlife from this appalling abuse by banning hunts from their property.

This latest instance of hunt cruelty was outlined in a report about the Westmeath Foxhounds published in the Irish Field (2nd February 2008). This is the same hunt who, last December, admitted mercilessly digging a fox out of its earth and seeing hounds tear it asunder.

"The fox and the pack swam across the canal and continued along the banks to the Mullingar/Ballynacargy Road," the disturbing report reveals. From here, "the fox, with four and a half couple (9 hounds) in pursuit, swam the canal again before retracing their steps back to Newman's Bog."

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports dreads to think of the awful fear and suffering endured by the fox as it did everything it possibly could to try and lose the pack.

We have this week appealed to landowners in Westmeath to consider the canal fox's terrible ordeal and consider the cruelty they facilitate by inviting hunts on to their land. "Please stand up for our wildlife heritage by posting 'No Hunting' signs along property boundaries and putting a notice in your local paper warning hunts to stay away," we appealed.

We also asked hunt followers uncomfortable with the cruelty to press for a changeover to draghunting. We told them that "this 21st Century alternative will not take away your enjoyment of following hounds along waterways, over stone walls and across bogs but it will ensure that a day's sport will never again depend on a bedraggled fox drenched in canal water and sweat running to save its life."

Please help foxes by responding to our action alerts below.


Please make a special appeal to Trevor Sargent TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture where new animal welfare legislation is currently being drafted. ICABS welcomed a statement from Minister Sargent last year in which he assured us that the new legislation will "ensure that the welfare of animals is properly protected". Please appeal to him to prioritise fox protection in the new act.

Trevor Sargent TD
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture
Tel: 01-6183465 (Dail)
Fax: 01-8900361

Dear Minister Sargent,

As one of the two thirds majority of Irish people who want foxhunting banned, I appeal to you to please ensure that foxes are afforded full protection from hunting groups in the new animal welfare legislation being drafted. Please do everything in your power to finally bring foxhunting to an end and protect foxes from this horrendous abuse.

Thank you. I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,



Urge the Minister for Agriculture to protect foxes and all wild creatures from unnecessary cruelty.

Minister Mary Coughlan
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.

Dear Minister Coughlan,

I was very disturbed to learn of an incident in Westmeath involving a fox having to swim across a canal twice to try and save its life during a foxhunt.

Minister, this is just the latest in an long line of totally unacceptable abuses against foxes by hunting groups. You are aware of the cruelty of hunting and the horrific deaths suffered by these creatures.

I appeal to your sense of compassion to urgently intervene to save foxes from this barbarism. Foxhunting is an abhorrent assault on our wildlife heritage and a complete ban is long overdue. Please ensure that Ireland's new animal welfare legislation includes protection for foxes.

Thank you. I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,



Please urgently appeal to your local politicians

Please join us in telling all of Ireland's TDs that it is now time to replace foxhunting with the humane alternative - drag hunting.

Drag hunting sees the hounds chasing an artificial lure instead of a live animal. This form of "hunting" is already practised successfully by a few groups in Ireland. In a modern and civilised country like Ireland, there should be no place for foxhunting, particularly when a transition to drag hunting would be simple.

Please stand up for the foxes so cruelly abused by hunting groups - write to all of your local politicians and ask them to act to secure a ban on foxhunting. If possible, get your friends, family and workmates to contact them too. We need as much help with this campaign as possible.

Write to your TD at:
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889.

Write to your Senator at:
Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 732 623.

For the names and contact details of politicians, please visit the Irish Government Website.


Contact Ireland's forestry board, Coillte, and demand an end to foxhunting on its property.

Sample Letter (If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Mr. David Gunning
Chief Executive Officer
Coillte, The Irish Forestry Board
Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow

Tel: 01-201 1111
Fax: 01-201 1199

Dear Mr Gunning,

As an Irish citizen, and thereby a shareholder in Coillte, I am writing to demand an end to foxhunting on Coillte property.

I understand that Coillte currently issues permits to a number of foxhunts to carry out blood sport activities in forests. Considering the appalling cruelty of foxhunting and the fact that a majority of Irish people want it outlawed, the time has come for Coillte to do the decent thing and make all of its property off limits to foxhunting groups.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive reply.

Yours sincerely,


Video: The cruelty of foxhunting
(Duration: 06:27 minutes)

Video: Drag Hunting - The humane alternative

Photos: Fox hunting cruelty

Please click on the pictures to view them in full-size.

More information about blood sports

Foxhunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition
Coursing: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition
Carted deer hunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition

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