Fine Gael’s Michael Creed asked to stop defending beagling
Fine Gael’s Spokesperson for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, Michael Creed, has been asked by ICABS to stop defending the cruel blood sport of beagling. In a Sunday Independent report, the County Cork TD sided with the beaglers and criticised Minister John Gormley for restricting the beagling season.
The June 1st article quoted Deputy Creed as saying that “any assault on the ordinary working man’s pursuit of beagling by some Green metropolitan latte-drinking elite would not be taken lying down”.
The report added that “though Minister Gormley claimed that he was informed by concerns about the consequences for the breeding season for hares, which begins each year in March, Deputy Creed claimed that this ‘looks like the thin end of a wedge where rural pursuits will be abolished by the weight of urban numbers’.”
In a fax to the Macroom-based TD, ICABS expressed our disappointment at his stance on the issue and informed him that, contrary to claims by beaglers, the aim of the blood sport is to catch and kill hares.
We quoted a report on the Westmeath Beagles from last year which revealed that having taken an “hour to shift her (the hare) out towards the rushy field at the foot of the medieval church…she succumbed to the pack”. This heralded kill, we are told, gained the hunters their “first notch on the kennel door” for the season. Also highlghted was another report from a hunting newspaper which outlined how a visiting English beagle pack to the Curragh Foot Beagles “caught their first Irish hare…after a fast and furious hunt of 20 minutes, and were awarded a magnum of champagne by the Irish Masters of Beagles Association.”
“This is clearly at odds with information on the Irish Masters of Beagles Association website where an attempt is made to portray their abhorrent activity as harmless to hares,” we stated to Deputy Creed. “Their rosy picture of the end of hunt – ‘a pack of exhausted hounds and a small white tail disappearing over a hill’ – is far removed from the gruesome reality.”
A motorist who witnessed a hare kill described the sickening scene as follows: “A hare came running down the road. I didn’t realise what was happening for a moment until a pack of hounds appeared from round the corner. I got out of the car to try and do something but the hounds had caught up with the hare and totally demolished it. All that was left was a tiny piece of fur blowing in the breeze.”
Other IMBA claims were also debunked in our letter, including their statement that “hares are plentiful in Ireland and can run at speeds much greater than a beagle can.”
The truth is that there is widespread fears for the future of the hare, one of our oldest and most loved species.
According to the “Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland” report (published in May 2008), the overall conservation status of the Irish Hare is “poor”. The National Parks and Wildlife Service have also sounded an alarm, warning that “the Irish hare is found in every county but numbers have decreased in recent years.” The hunting and coursing of hares undoubtedly have a negative impact on the species.
As for the claim that hares run faster than beagles, this is only half the story and another example of beaglers trying to dupe the public. It is true that hares can run faster but it is also a fact that beagling hounds are bred for stamina rather than speed and can usually outrun their quarry. When they catch up with the unfortunate hare, they move in and kill as a pack, tearing the hare apart.
In our appeal to Michael Creed, TD, we put forward drag hunting as an acceptable alternative to beagling.
“If the beaglers are truly only interested in bringing their pack of hounds out to follow a scent [as stated in the Independent article], there is a perfectly acceptable alternative available in the form of drag hunting. This involves a member of the hunt dragging an artificial scent cross-country for the pack of hounds to subsequently follow. Drag hunting is fun and challenging for both dogs and followers and has the added advantage of keeping hunt activities away from public roads, railway lines and land containing livestock.”
Ask Deputy Creed to reconsider his stance on beagling and to side with the majority of citizens who want the Irish hare species safeguarded and protected from all forms of persecution.
(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.)
Michael Creed, TD
Dear Deputy Creed
I am writing to register my opposition to your defence of beagling in a recent edition of the Sunday Independent.
Beagling is a cruel blood sport that causes fear, stress, injury and the most appalling death to hares. I understand that you have been made aware of the report entitled “Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland” which has found that the overall conservation status of the Irish Hare is “poor”. Hunting is one of the local factors which is “likely to negatively influence hare numbers”.
Considering the cruelty of beagling and the threat it poses to hare populations, I ask you to please stop siding with the minority who take pleasure in persecuting the species and to instead work towards safeguarding the future of the Irish Hare.
Thank you. I look forward to your reply.