SEÁN Mac CONNELL Agriculture Correspondent
THE WARD Union Hunt has issued a list of hunt fixtures for the coming season despite the recently introduced ban on hunting stags.
Animal rights activists have forwarded details of the events to gardaí asking them to prosecute any breaches of the new law.
Confirming that the list had been sent out, Ronan Griffin, the hunt’s spokesman, said a legal team was looking at the legislation and it would take advantage of any loophole it could find to ensure the survival of Ireland’s only stag hunt, which was set up in 1884.
“What I can say if we are doing anything we will only act within the law as we have always done.
“We have no intention to break the law but we want the hunt to continue,” he said.
Bernie Wright of the Association of Hunt Saboteurs Ireland, claimed she had learned from sources in the hunt that it was planning to hunt stags again and she was seeking a Garda investigation.
“My people tell me they have a plan to fit stags with electronic tracking collars so they can lay down a drag [artificial scent] trail to where the pack would “accidentally” come across a stag and hunt it,” she said.
Ms Wright claimed the hunt was also looking at a possible loophole in the legislation which could allow the hunt to follow one single hound rather than a pack which was specified in the legislation.
Mr Griffin said the fixture list had been sent out to put farmers and members on notice of the hunting season and meetings as it had been doing since the hunt was set up.
He added that the hunt had no plans to arrange drag hunting of stags.
Asked if the hunt planned to or had put electronic tracking equipment on stag, he repeated that anything the hunt would do would be within the law.
Asked about hunting the stag with a single dog rather than a pack, he again repeated anything the hunt would do, “if anything, would be within the law”.
If the hunt is found to be in breach of the law it could face fines from € 500 to € 1,000 for a first offence, from € 1,000 to €2,000 for a second offence, and from € 1,500 to €5,000 for a third or subsequent offence.
The maximum fine for conviction on indictment was increased to € 100,000 in the controversial legislation driven by the Green Party and passed by one vote in the Dáil last June.
The hunt fixture list shows hunts listed for Clogherstown Cross, Garristown and the Naul, in Co Dublin running right up to a pre-Christmas meeting at Cabragh Lodge on December 22nd.
It will also hold an open day on October 23rd between 2-5 pm at the hunt kennels at Greenpark for farmers, families and friends of the hunt.http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/1014/1224281062054.html
Supported by FAFT [Farmers against Foxhunting and trespass]
Over 30,000 people have signed our petitions on the streets, they have said no to hunting with hounds-
ALSO 64% of the population now want a ban on bloodsports!!!!
THE STAG HUNT HAS BEEN BANNED….NOW LETS GET RID OF THE OTHER BLOODSPORTS!!
WE INVITE THE PRESS TO COME MEET OUR 2 human-size rabbits and a fox who will be presenting our signatures to the DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, Kildare street ON WEDNESDAY 13th at 12.45pm.
We ask the Irish Government why are fox, hare and other cruel and archaic bloodsports allowed to continue.? A major opinion poll carried out by Millward Brown, revealed that 68 per cent of those surveyed said foxhunting was cruel, and 64 per cent wanted an outright ban.
· There are almost 300 foxhunts in Ireland, each hunting 2 to 5 times a week. The main season is from November until late March, although some have been known to carry on until the start of May.
· All hunts also 'cub hunt' (hunt young fox cubs to train new hounds) for 2/3 months before the start of the main season. The hunt itself will gather in late morning, although and 'earth stopper' will have been out at dawn to block up any known earth's, drains and badger setts, so that foxes returning from a night's foraging will be exposed above ground. The huntsman will lead the hounds to a wood or covert where there is a known earth. The hounds are sent into the woods to flush out any foxes. As all underground escape routes are blocked the fox is forced to run to escape the hounds. Riders positioned around the wood will 'holloa' to the huntsman to let him know the direction the fox has run.
· Foxhounds are bred to be slower than foxes, but have far better stamina. Thus, the fox will initially out-pace the hounds, but tire quicker, allowing the foxes to eventually catch up with it. It is almost always an older, experienced hound who will catch the fox on the run, snapping at any past of the fox to slow it down. The rest of the pack then catches up and the fox is torn to pieces.
· If the fox manages to find refuge in an unblocked earth, the hunt employ terriermen who will put their terriers down the earth to force the fox into the open to be re-hunted, or attack the fox underground while the men dig down through the soil to catch the terrified animal. Once they have dug out the fox, the terriermen are supposed to shoot it, but many will simply give it a blow with a spade. It is not unusual (although against fox hunting 'rules') for the fox to be thrown alive to the waiting hounds.
· Bernie Wright. Press Officer AOHS
· John Fitzgerald , press Officer CACS
Farmers will be represented at a protest against foxhunting outside the Department of Agriculture today, where they will call upon the Government to introduce a total ban on the activity.
The Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass group said they wanted to voice their “continued objections to the destructive impact of this activity on the property and livelihoods of farmers nationwide”.
It said it supported Minister for the Environment John Gormley in his decision to ban stag hunting and it urged the Government to include a total ban on foxhunting in the new Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which is due before the Dáil shortly.
“We maintain that foxhunters seek to keep themselves in business...and land...at someone else’s expense- namely the farmer,” the group said. “The hunts demand and expect that farmers should supply free of charge to them the most expensive part of their destructive pastime.”
It said the “so-called hunting fraternity” was composed of “vandals, law-breakers, and serial trespassers”.
“Foxhunters have no respect for farmers...for their land, crops, or livelihoods. They have trampled on our rights, land, and on the dignity of farmers, for decades.”
The organisation said if hunters obstructed a street or gateway in a city or a large town in pursuit of their pastime, they would be clamped or face fines. “Yet they break every law in the book across the length and breadth of rural Ireland.”
It said no farmer wished to have his land poached, his fences knocked down and destroyed, and barbed wire cut.
Hunting also resulted in crops being trampled, livestock “terrified and injured” and created the risk of a spread of disease. In addition, farmers were “ridiculed and abused” by members of hunts on farms and country roads.
It said the “vast majority” of farmers did not want hunts on their land. “We want our constitutional rights as landowners and farmers respected and implemented by law.”
The group said that if hunters switched to drag hunting, the farmers’ protest would end. Drag hunting avoided trespass on other farms and confined hunters to farms where they were allowed to hunt by written consent along a pre-determined route.