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August 8 2015 7 08 /08 /August /2015 23:33
Cecil Factor aids wildlife protection...

If ever an animal could be said not to have died in vain it was poor old Cecil the Lion. His sad end at the hands of a wealthy hunter has focused attention on the plight of endangered wildlife worldwide, and not just the fate of rhinos, tigers, lions, pandas, and hippos.

The whole issue of recreational killing of wildlife has come under the spotlight as people vent their outrage at the sadistic and calculated way that Cecil was made to suffer for “sport.” In Spain and some South American countries, animals are stoned to death at fiestas, goats are thrown off high buildings, and the horns of bulls set alight.

That’s if there isn’t a bull fighting session on to amuse or occupy blood sport fans. Bears are still baited in Pakistan and Afghanistan, dogs ripping into their flesh and inflicting a slow death in scenes that Shakespeare would have been familiar with in Elizabethan England but that some humans seem to crave in the 21st century. Here in Ireland we are less than two months away from another hare coursing season.

An animal whose conservation status is deemed poor and that has all but vanished from many parts of the country is forced to serve as bait for pairs of competing greyhounds They are mere pawns in a silly game of chance, getting mauled or tossed about like broken toys on rain sodden and wind swept fields nationwide.

As a popular Irish folk song went: “All God’s creatures have a place in the choir.” None of them deserve to be tortured to death or mutilated or terrorised for a laugh or a wager, or to be mounted as a grizzly trophy on the wall of some wealthy connoisseur of carcasses. Now the spectre of Cecil, lying dead and headless and with a smiling hunter posing beside him, hangs over all blood sports.

From the mighty lion to the brooding bear, the wily fox to the humble hare, these creatures form part of the world’s imperiled wildlife heritage. Thanks to the Cecil Factor this treasure that graces our planetary eco-system may yet survive the effects of man’s inhumanity.

The campaign to protect wildlife everywhere continues:


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April 8 2015 4 08 /04 /April /2015 01:25

Hares have disappeared from the North Bull Island, one of Ireland’s most important and best known nature reserves!


The Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports (CACS) has issued this statement, dated April 7th, 2015:


We are alarmed at the news that hares are now EXTINCT on Dublin Bay’s North Bull Island, one of Ireland’s most important nature reserves and coincidentally one that for generations had been almost synonymous with the iconic Irish Hare. 


This is an ominous development in the ongoing threat to the Irish Hare, a sub species of the Mountain Hare that is unique to Ireland and has long been a treasured part of our wildlife heritage.


In former years hares were netted for organized hare coursing events on the North Bull Island. Coursing clubs continue to net hares in many parts of the country for their cruel fixtures but what role they might have played in this latest debacle is unclear, especially given the secrecy that surrounds hare netting and related coursing practices.


An article on the North Bull Island Wildlife website, which is run by an ecologist with over 40 years experience of studying and recording wildlife, reveals that no hares have been spotted on the island since June 2014.


The article states: "The native Irish Hare was once abundant on the island but is now on the verge of extinction for the second time in recent decades. In 2014 only one animal was reported up to the end of May 2014; then two were observed in June. No hares have been recorded since June despite extensive searches."

The disappearance of hares from the island is attributed to disturbance by humans and dogs, with assorted environmental factors playing a less significant role.

The absence of the Irish Hare from this internationally recognized nature reserve must surely be a matter of concern for our politicians, regardless of their views on the deliberate ill-treatment of hares in organized coursing events.


It should also be a source of embarrassment to the political establishment, given the fact that licenses permitting the annual netting of thousands of hares are granted to coursing clubs. Hares are netted in almost every county of the Republic, and NPWS reports show that they have even been removed from off shore islands (e.g. Island Eddy in Galway Bay, Oyster Island off the Sligo coast, and Hog Island off the Clare coast) and just about any place the coursing clubs can find them.


Netting threatens local hare populations and is responsible for widespread interference with the species, including disturbance of pregnant hares, nursing mothers and leverets. Resulting depletion of vulnerable population pockets can lead to local extinction.


Apart from the cruelty factor (maulings and other injuries are recorded by wildlife rangers annually at coursing events), there is also a concernabout the reproductive viability of hares that are released back into the wild after being subjected to the terror, stress, and trauma of coursing.


The demise of the Irish Hare on the North Bull Island is all the more shocking and unacceptable given that the island has the most designations of any site in Ireland.


It is a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive, a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve, a National Nature Reserve and is part of the Natura 2000 Network.  Yet, despite this blanket of theoretical protection, the hares seem to have vanished into thin air on the island.


We have urged the Department of Arts and Heritage to facilitate the re-introduction of hares to the North Bull Island and to allocate the necessary resources to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to enhance their protected status on the island thereafter.



The two pronged menace of coursing clubs and lurcher gangs



We believe urgent action is also required to protect the Irish Hare nationwide and we strongly suggest that no further netting licenses be granted to coursing clubs, regardless of how much political influence these people can muster. In the past they have held many of our politicians in a vice-like grip, pulling the wool over their eyes with their “we love the hare more than anyone” nonsense.


Coursing clubs and renegade lurcher gangs are depleting our Irish Hare population nationwide. The coursing clubs, though not intentionally in cahoots with the illegal poachers, are directly facilitating them by concentrating captured or “released” hares in areas known as preserves which are easily accessible to the lurcher men.


Hare coursing advocates frequently quote Quercus, the Belfast University research body as confirming that “Irish hares are 18 times more abundant in areas managed by the Irish Coursing Club than at similar sites in the wider countryside”.  The clubs effectively advertise the presence of significant numbers of hares in their so-called preserves, with the result that poachers know exactly where to find and kill them. 


If the poachers were to seek out hares without the benefit of access to these semi-captive creatures  on coursing club property they would find it far more difficult to locate them given the low hare density across the island. The coursing club preserves have become virtual death traps for hares and may be hastening the decline of the species.


We have sent a circular to all TDs and Senators, urging our politicians to address this issue. We believe that legislation and/or appropriate ministerial action is urgently needed to prevent coursing clubs from 1) netting hares for their baiting fixtures and 2) otherwise interfering with the hare population and playing directly, if unwittingly, into the hands of unscrupulous poachers and criminal gangs.


·         Claims by coursing clubs and by Irish Government Minister Tom Hayes that cruelty has been eliminated from hare coursing are belied by the reports filed by wildlife rangers attached to the NPWS AND video evidence captured at numerous hare coursing events in Ireland. Here is some of the footage:





…End of statement…






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April 5 2015 1 05 /04 /April /2015 22:32
An anti hare coursing protest at a venue outside Waterford, Ireland, in 1987. And a more recent demo outside Dail Eireann, the national parliament.The campaign to abolish hare coursing continues. Some day this cruel excuse for a "sport" will be banned in Ireland...
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February 13 2015 6 13 /02 /February /2015 17:01

         An internal Irish Coursing Club document advises:


* ...It's better to kill greyhounds than give them away...

* Injured greyhounds may be run if a coursing club steward so decides...

* A ban on "unauthourised photography" to be enforced at all hare coursing events...

* "Dispatchers" (the men assigned to finish off injured hares or rescue them from the dogs)

to be positioned "at the side of the field furthest away from the crowd."...

* Coursing clubs and their members to refrain from "verbally abusing" public representatives

who attend coursing events "even if they are opposed to coursing..."





An internal Irish Coursing Club (ICC) document offers a chilling insight into the attitude to both hares and greyhounds of this politically well-connected “sporting" elite.



The document is titled:


A Summary of Directives, Instructions and Guidance Notes  

Issued by the Executive Committee of the Irish Coursing Club to  

Club Secretaries, Control Stewards Judges and Slippers, Through the  

Secretary of the Irish Coursing Club (embodying the years 1969-2013) 


While much of the document is taken up with administrative issues, the rules of hare coursing etc, it contains evidence of the shocking attitude of coursing clubs generally, and of the ICC itself, which is the governing body for the blood sport, towards the welfare of both hares and greyhounds.


Here is a link to the entire document: http://irishcoursingclub.ie/pdfs/A%20Summary%20of%20Directives,%20Instructions%20and%20Guidance%20Notes%20.pdf


Here are the extracts referred to:  


Clubs should ensure that they have a sufficient number of capable and active personnel available to
intervene and rescue a hare in difficulty with muzzled greyhounds.   Such hare should be placed in a box
and inspected,
where possible, by a Veterinary Surgeon after coursing, and the appropriate treatment given. Dispatchers should be on the side of the field furthest away from the crowd.


In the event of being approached by any television crew for permission to televise proceedings at a
coursing meeting, club secretaries should refer such television crew to the Secretary, Irish Coursing Club
All clubs are advised that elected public representatives attending coursing meetings, even if they are
known to be opposed to coursing or other field sports, should be treated with courtesy and decorum 
Please advise your members that it is not in the best interests of the image of our Sport to verbally abuse such people.


The following notices should be inserted on programmes for all meetings 
Unauthorised Photography is Strictly Forbidden at this meeting


Do not give away unwanted greyhounds. It is far better to put them painlessly to sleep. 


As the implementation of a rule to cater for the running of injured greyhounds in order to qualify for prize money would be difficult, the Executive Committee ask that the stewards of meetings use their judgement in relation to the matter. 

 ...end of extracts...


Dispatchers are the people who put hares out of their misery when the animals are mauled, forcibly struck, or otherwise injured by the pursuing greyhounds. A dispatcher can be seen in the following footage from the Irish Cup coursing event held at County Limerick:




They are referred to euphemistically as men who are there to help hares that find themselves “in difficulty.”  This window-dressing is designed, we believe, to hoodwink the general public and our legislators into believing that coursing clubs are engaged in a long drawn-out love affair with our hare population. This is far from being the case.


Note the admonition: Dispatchers should be on the side of the field furthest away from the crowd. Hare coursing depends for its survival on concealment and cover-up.


Re the advice on “TV and Media Coverage” and “Notice for programmes”, we ask: why is it necessary for a sporting organization to advise its affiliated clubs to 1) prohibit “unauthorized photography” at its fixtures, and 2) not to verbally abuse politicians who attend its sporting events?  Such paranoia would be unthinkable with, for example, hurling, tennis, or rugby.


Hare coursing has a lot to hide. Banned in many other jurisdictions, it must be wary of those who would look too closely at what occurs before, during, and after the meetings.

Here is footage showing what happened when two people tried to film last year’s National Hare Coursing fixture in Clonmel:




The advice in the document re greyhounds is also disturbing: The ICC is suggesting that these dogs, which make wonderful pets, should be killed rather than given away, and permits the coursing of injured greyhounds at the discretion of “stewards” at coursing events.


This demonstrates the obvious and utterly breathtaking contempt with which coursing clubs regard the animals they depend on to create their so-called “sport” and entertainment.”



John Fitzgerald,

Campaign for the Abolition

of Cruel Sports





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February 11 2015 4 11 /02 /February /2015 15:19

Campaign histotry was made at the protest against the 3 day "National Hare Coursing Festival" in Ireland this month...the demo, supported by a number of animal protection groups, was first item on TG4 (Irish language) news.
It is rare for an animal cruely issue to receive such prominence on any of Ireland's TV networks. Aideen Yourell of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) put her knowledge and grasp of the native Gaelic language to great use in her interview:   
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February 5 2015 5 05 /02 /February /2015 20:08

Clare Daly TD (member of Ireland’s Parliament, pictured with greyhound at protest) has proposed a Bill that aims to ban hare coursing in Ireland and also strengthen the existing ban on stag hunting.


clare d with dog and protesters


Listen to her moving address to parliament here:




And here is a transcript:


TRANSCRIPT: Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2015: First Stage


Deputy Clare Daly: I move:


That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Wildlife Act 1976 and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010; and to provide for related matters.


I am aware that my colleague, Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, will introduce a similar Bill in the next period. My Bill proposes to address unfinished business concerning the 2010 ban on stag hunting and to deal with the barbaric practice of hare coursing. Since the imposition of the ban on stag hunting in 2010, there have been persistent and repeated attempts by the Ward Union Hunt to surreptitiously get around it by exploiting a loophole in the 2010 Act. The Act provided for one dog to hunt deer to facilitate a situation where a farmer might have to remove a wild deer from his or her land.


Unfortunately, this provision has been abused by the Ward Union Hunt. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that it has received numerous complaints from the general public about breaches of the 2010 legislation by the Ward Union Hunt. It has also confirmed that it can happen that, while on a drag hunt, hounds can come across a deer living in the wild and chase it for a short time until called off by the huntsmen. The Ward Union Hunt is aware of the rule that dogs should be withdrawn immediately in such instances. The problem, however, is that they are not.


It seems there is an incredible number of wild deer roaming around the area in which the Ward Union Hunt hunts regularly. We had the shocking situation last Friday where a frightened stag stampeded through the main streets of Ashbourne, County Meath, presenting a danger to itself and pedestrians. The Minister of State will be aware that road safety was one of the key reasons the 2010 legislation was passed. In December a stag was chased by the hunt in Summerhill, County Meath, with reports filed on the incident by National Parks and Wildlife Service officers and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine vets.


The Bill also seeks to deal with the issue of prohibiting the practice of hare coursing, an activity to which there is growing opposition. It is a matter of fact that numerous Deputies would vote to have it banned if a free vote was allowed on the matter. It is timely that we are moving the Bill today, given the cancellation of the third day of the national hare coursing championships in Clonmel, County Tipperary. Unfortunately, they will be reconvened next Sunday. I appeal to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to intervene in this matter. The hares for the event will be kept for another week in Powerstown Park, Clonmel, in stressful and unnatural captivity. Next week they will be used as live bait, taken in boxes back to Clonmel, even more stressed and terrified.


The Minister would do well to log on to the website of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports to examine some of the photographs taken by citizens of the coursing activity last weekend. They provide irrefutable evidence of massive cruelty, despite the muzzling of greyhounds, with hares pinned down, struck at high speed and tossed into the air by hyped-up dogs. It is not even a pleasant activity for the dogs. The guidance notes of the Irish Coursing Club state the dogs involved should be killed, rather than rehoused, when their time is up. They also allow for injured dogs to be raced at the behest of the stewards.


All in all, this is an incredibly unwelcome practice. The activity has already been banned in Britain, Northern Ireland, most of continental Europe and Australia. There is no need for this cruel treatment of animals. The European coursing championships were held recently, with thousands in attendance, and no hares were chased, as it was done on a mechanical and drag basis. It is important for animal rights and welfare and the protection of wildlife that the Bill be introduced.


An Ceann Comhairle: Seán Barrett Is the Bill opposed?


Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): No, the Bill will not be opposed, but, personally, I will not be supporting it.


Deputy Clare Daly: I hope the Minister of State will have an opportunity to explain his opposition.


Deputy Mick Wallace: There is a lot of coursing in Wexford.

Question put and agreed to.


An Ceann Comhairle: Seán Barrett Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.


Deputy Clare Daly: I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.


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January 24 2015 7 24 /01 /January /2015 17:03
For anyone living in Ireland: A peaceful protest against hare coursing will be organised outside the Boylesports office, Westmoreland Street, Dublin on Friday, January 30th. Time: 12.30 to 2 pm.
The betting agency, Boylesports, continues to be one of the main sponsors of the horrific "sport" of hare coursing. Without such financial backing it could not survive. Please, if you can, join an alliance of animal protection/conservation groups outside the Boylesports office.
The protest takes place on the eve of the so-called "National Hare Coursing Festival" in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. This appalling event involves three days of live hare baiting and the fans includes people who travel to Ireland from countries where hare coursing is illegal...
And here's a sample of the "sport"...
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December 28 2014 1 28 /12 /December /2014 00:53


anti-blood-sport-demo.jpg  hare-coursing-demo-5-copy-1.jpg


With dozens of animal baiting fixtures to be held over Christmas, a stark reminder of just how anomalous and out of date our animal cruelty laws are has been provided by the conviction of four men earlier this month for hare coursing in Cambridgeshire, England.


In addition to fining the culprits, Huntington Magistrates’ Court ordered that two of their vehicles be crushed.

By contrast, here in Ireland hare coursing is permitted by law and supported by some leading politicians.


Following weeks of unnatural captivity, the timid and inoffensive hares can be mauled or otherwise injured as the dogs pin them down or toss them about on the coursing field.


A special provision exempting hare coursing from prohibition was inserted into the Animal Health and Welfare Act at the behest of the powerful pro hare baiting lobby. This legislative anomaly utterly disgraces Ireland in the estimation of decent people worldwide.


The Gardai, unlike their UK police counterparts or the PSNI up North, can only look on or direct traffic as this organized, State-backed animal cruelty unfolds.


Hundreds of hares will be forced to run for their lives over Christmas, with snugly dressed fans gathering on frosty or rain-saturated fields to watch the iconic creatures, their eyes bulging from sheer terror as they dodge and swerve to evade the salivating dogs.


Sadly, it may be some time before our politicians find the courage to outlaw this obscenity. While hare coursers’ cars get crushed across the water, quite a few well connected people in the Republic appear to have, shall we say, a crush on this form of animal cruelty.


·         Here is footage of hare coursing in Ireland:




·         And here’s how the same blood sport is dealt with in Britain and a few miles up the road in Northern Ireland.  


er   Footage of the official car crushing operation carried out by court order. It took place on Friday, December 12th at 10am at Burton's Car Disposal, Cockbrook Lane, Old Weston.



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November 23 2014 1 23 /11 /November /2014 01:23




The recent death of ex-senator and architect, Jack Fitzsimons of Kells, County Meath, has been keenly felt by his family and by the many people who knew him in his former professions. Readers of his best-selling book, Bungalow Bliss, will remember him too for his professional and easy to follow advice on affordable house designs.


But those of us concerned about the protection of Ireland’s wildlife heritage will cherish his commitment to the campaign to outlaw the cruel practice of live hare coursing. Following two terms as a senator, Jack stood in the local elections on an anti-blood sports ticket, seeking a mandate for his view that hare coursing should be banned.


He was elected to Meath County Council on that platform and worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of the gentle and inoffensive creatures that are snatched from our countryside to serve as live bait.


He organized a march from his native Kells to Dublin, where he spoke to a large gathering outside the Dail about the need to protect the Irish Hare, stressing its unique place in our culture and ecology, and its status as a living link to the last Ice Age.


He backed Tony Gregory’s attempt in 1993 to tackle hare coursing via a Private Members Bill. Though the measure was voted down, it shamed coursing clubs into muzzling greyhounds, a de facto recognition on their part that hares were suffering in their “sport.”


In 1994 Jack published a book with the ironic title of Coursing Ban be Damned, in which he made a powerful case against hare coursing, citing both conservationist data and scientific studies that proved hares suffer immense distress and trauma as a result of being coursed by hyped-up dogs, even when they manage to avoid outright physical injury. He also touched upon the deep divisions that the anti hare coursing campaign had created among politicians and how the lavishly financed pro-hunting lobby had succeeded in distorting the political process in favour of blood sports.


Jack ran as an independent protest candidate in the 1994 European Parliament election, prioritizing his opposition to “hare coursing and fox hunting.”


Though he did not live to see his beloved Irish Hare safeguarded from recreational cruelty, Jack Fitzsimons helped through his writings and political campaigning to prepare the way for future legislation on the issue.


There are those who will decry his emphasis on the hare’s sad plight, but none will deny that he was an honest and brave politician, who did what he believed to be RIGHT, as distinct from what was politically expedient.

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November 8 2014 7 08 /11 /November /2014 15:57
Despite repeated claims by Irish government officials that hare coursing events are not held in adverse weather conditions, the evidence shows the opposite: Here, in this video clip of a recent hare coursing fixture in Ireland, heavy rain is clearly falling on the baiting venue.
Setting up our iconic Irish Hare as live bait, to be terrorised and often mauled or otherwise injured to amuse gambling fans is bad enough...but it happens in hail, rain, snow, or with high winds blowing, adding to the hare's plight as it seeks to dodge the pursuing greyhounds. Pro hare coursing politicians continue to deny this proven fact. They routinely rise in the Dail (Irish parliament) and glibly announce that coursing clubs always take care not to allow hares "perform" in inclemant weather.
Such assurances are easily refuted by the simple truth caught on camera:
Have a look:
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