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Deer chased into river during search for body
20 February 2013

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, 19th February) despite the fact that deer hunting with dogs has been outlawed since 2010, eye-witnesses clearly saw a deer, pursued by hounds of the Ward Union hunt, jumping into the River Boyne on a stretch where a search and recovery operation (for the body of a man who tragically drowned) was in progress.

An eye-witness told Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline show that the stag floated down the river which was very swollen and fast flowing, and that the dogs jumped into the river after the deer, which was trying to escape the hunt. He added that members of the deceased man's family were upset at the intrusion by the hunt, and that the Ward Union hunt would have known the search was taking place there. "They have no respect for anybody," he said.

ICABS has called for the Gardai and National Parks & Wildlife Service to investigate this disturbing incident under the Wildlife Amendment Act 2010. According to the Act, "a person who hunts deer with two or more dogs shall be guilty of an offence."

Joe Duffy Liveline Show, RTE Radio 1, 20th February 2013

Interview with eye-witness

Photos: Deer in Boyne

Eyewitnesses clearly saw this unfortunate deer, pursued by hounds of the Ward Union hunt, jumping into the swollen River Boyne. 19th February 2013.

Did you also witness this incident? Please contact the Gardai with details of what you saw.

Contact the Joe Duffy Liveline Show with eye-witness accounts:
Call: 1850-715815 / 08457-853333 Northern Ireland & U.K
Text: 51551

If you have photos or video footage of this incident, please get in touch with the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. Email:


According to the Wildlife Amendment Act 2010, "a person who hunts deer with two or more dogs shall be guilty of an offence." If you reside in the area where the Ward Union operates, please familiarise yourself with the Wildlife Amendment Act 2010 and report any breaches to the Gardai.

For the phone numbers of Garda stations, please visit:

Previous reports of deer being hunted into River Boyne - 2010 and 2009

Another Ward Union deer chased into river
16 March 2010

A deer being hunted by the Ward Union last month ended up in the River Boyne, it has been reported. An article in the Irish Field describes how the unfortunate animal "entered the River Boyne to put the hounds off the scent". This is just the latest incident involving a deer jumping into a river to escape the pack of dogs. ICABS has brought it to the attention of Minister Gormley who is preparing to publish legislation to outlaw the hunt.

The February 13th 2010 Irish Field report outlines that as the stag "retraced his way back down the river and returned to dry land" the hounds were called off and the animal was left to "remain at large as an outlier".

Previously, ICABS has highlighted an incident involving a deer being dragged out of the Broadmeadow River after being hunted for over two hours by the Ward Union. Another Ward Union deer was hunted for two and a half hours and "recaptured in the river at Burtonstown". On another occasion, a deer went into the Boyne near Navan during a chase which the Irish Times reported involved "50 huntsmen and huntswomen on horseback, in addition to some Ward Union staff...and a pack of hounds". More details about each of these appear below.

Minister Gormley shown photos of deer being dragged out of river
07 May 2009

A disturbing photograph showing a deer being dragged out of a river at the end of a Ward Union hunt has been forwarded to Minister John Gormley as part of a renewed appeal for the hunt to be stopped. The unfortunate deer was pursued for over two hours during a hunt licensed by the Green Party minister.

The photos, obtained by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports under the Freedom of Information Act, show hunters dragging the animal through the waters of the Broadmeadow River in County Meath. The hunt in question took place on 28th November last.

According to an accompanying report, the four-year-old stag was chased into a drain 1 hour and 20 minutes after the start of the hunt. The animal was subsequently observed running alongside the river.

"At 14.20 the stag was in the river near Fieldstown Bridge," the National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger stated in a monitoring report. "After some running up and down the river and out of, and back into, the river, the stag then took some cover in bushes on the river bank."

The deer handlers then "approached the stag and recaptured it", bringing it up a steep bank from the river and back into the hunt's trailer.

ICABS has brought these sickening photographs to the attention of Minister John Gormley and renewed our plea to him to stop licensing the Ward Union.

The captive-bred, domesticated deer at the start of the hunt after being released from the Ward Union's trailer.

After being hunted for over two hours, the deer is captured and dragged from a river.

Close-up: Hunters grip the deer's head and body and drag it from the river. Please join our appeal to Minister John Gormley to stop licensing this cruel hunt.

Deer hunted for two and a half hours and captured in river
22 April 2009

One of the deer terrorised by the Ward Union last season was chased for two and a half hours before being captured in a river. The disturbing revelations appear in a document obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act.

The deer's cross-country ordeal began just after midday on a hunt which took place on 14th November last. The animal emerged from the hunt's trailer, ran to the bottom of a field of stubble and jumped a ditch.

According to a report made by a vet who was monitoring the hunt, the stag "was seen along the Macetown to Edoxtown road for a few minutes by a telephone post, then moved on south east. The stag crossed the Edoxtown to Rathfeigh road, went north of Rathfeigh Old Bridge and took shelter with sheep at Loughanstown." The stag was seen moving around the sheep for 15 minutes, he said, and at this point an attempt was made by the hunt to capture the deer.

The animal moved away fast, the report outlines, adding that it travelled through Bellew and Burtonstown before "probably" going in to a wood.

Later on during the hunt, the deer was again spotted sheltering among sheep. We are told that the animal was "recaptured in the river at Burtonstown at 14.40".

A post-hunt "examination" was carried out by the vet at the side of the Kentstown-Navan road thirteen minutes later. Incredibly, the only comment made about the condition of the deer - which had been hunted for a full two and a half hours and dragged from a river - was that it "appeared to be unharmed".

ICABS monitors present on the day witnessed the stag jumping onto a road from a gateway at a point where about twenty hunt followers were standing around. The deer looked terrified and nervous as it crossed the road between the mob and went into a field opposite.

ICABS has renewed its appeal to Minister John Gormley to stop licensing this hunt.

Stag forced to swim across Boyne to escape hunters
01 January 2009

A stag being pursued by the Ward Union hunt was forced to swim across the River Boyne in a desperate bid to escape, the Irish Times has reported. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is renewing its call on Environment Minister John Gormley (Green Party) to withdraw the 5½ month licence he issued to this cruel hunt and to refuse future licences.

According to the Times report, the stag went into the river near Navan during a hunt last Tuesday (December 30th). The chase involved "50 huntsmen and huntswomen on horseback, in addition to some Ward Union staff...and a pack of hounds".

You can read the full Irish Times report, and see a photograph of the stag, by clicking on the link below:
Stag escapes from Meath hunters by swimming river

Videos: Carted deer hunting cruelty

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