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Revoke hunt's licence before someone gets killed
16 December 2009

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on Minister John Gormley to permanently revoke the licence he issued to the Ward Union deer hunt. The call is being made on the grounds that it poses a real and present danger to motorists and it comes in the wake of an incident on Friday last when a hunted deer jumped onto a public road and collided with a car.

The deer sustained a leg injury and had to be destroyed. Thankfully, on this occasion no person was injured.

In correspondence with Minister John Gormley, ICABS has stated: "A collision with a deer could potentially result in serious injury and death to a motorist and we urge you to give serious consideration to the risks involved in allowing this hunt to continue."

As part of a submission, ICABS has provided Minister Gormley with photographic evidence showing cars and lorries being brought to a standstill as a pack of hunt hounds spilled out on to a public road. Another image shows a National Parks and Wildlife Service van on a clogged-up road being forced to reverse to allow oncoming traffic to pass. The NPWS official was present to monitor the hunt on behalf of Minister Gormley.

This is not the first time a deer has been chased onto public roads by the Ward Union and their pack of hounds.

Just last year, a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger reported that he was forced to "brake hard" to avoid a fatal collision with a Ward Union deer. The ranger who was monitoring the hunt on 25 November 2008 said he "narrowly avoided killing" the animal.

While monitoring the same hunt in the past, members of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports had to take evasive action to avoid crashing into a deer which was being chased around a corner into oncoming traffic. Only by braking hard and swerving were we able to avoid a collision with the terrified animal.

Over the years, we have continually flagged the dangers posed by the hunt.

As far back as 1997, a Department of Agriculture report ("Monitoring of the Stag Hunts conducted by the Ward Union Hunt by K.W. S. Kane, Veterinary Inspector"), acknowledged that "Stags are frightened by motor vehicles when they cross public roads, which they frequently do during hunts." He added that "during the six hunts attended the Dublin-Slane road was crossed three times by a stag and five times by the Hunt; the Dublin-Navan road was crossed once by stag and hunt."

A Department of Agriculture official monitoring the Ward Union during the 1997-98 season referred to the hazards associated with hunts on roads. In his report, he stated that the "deer were at risk of injury when crossing roads."

In a 2003 submission to then Minister for Transport, we highlighted a report from a NPWS ranger who monitored the Ward Union hunt on March 5th, 2002. The ranger outlined that "the stag took off in the direction of Dunshaughlin where it crossed the main N3".

In 2004, following an ICABS appeal, the National Safety Council told the Ward Union Deerhunt to stay off the public roads in the interests of road safety. Responding to concerns that the hunt poses a potential danger to road users in Meath and North County Dublin, an NSC spokesperson stated at the time that: "We would have obvious concerns if such [hunt] practices posed a danger to road users. We will be writing to the Ward Union Hunt to communicate these concerns and that in the interests of road safety we would request that all appropriate precautions be taken to prevent incursions (by deer/stag, dogs and the hunt party) onto the public highway during hunting outings."

The Government has promised that legislation to ban the Ward Union is due in the New Year but, in the interests of preventing further incidents and danger to motorists, ICABS is demanding that the licence be immediately revoked.


Please email "Revoke the Ward Union's licence immediately" to

Minister John Gormley
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House, Dublin 1.
Tel: 01 888 2403. Fax: 01 878 8640.

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

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