Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Bad Hare Days Spawn Darker Shades of Green!

John Fitzgerald, 09.12.2008

Observations on the snares and pitfalls of mounting protest campaigns on difficult animal welfare issues. Anyone taking up a cause should be aware that it may carry a hefty price tag!

I am an Irish anti-blood sports campaigner and my book Bad Hare Days is generating a lot of controversy, not unexpected given the long running debate on the ethics of live hare coursing in Ireland. I can accept criticism, but not the bullying and the blind unreasoning hatred that my legitimate opposition to this so-called sport has elicited from some coursing fans

My book was NOT written to drive coursing fans wild, or to split families and divide communities, as one critic has accused me of doing. I have received phone calls from defenders of hare coursing threatening all manner of unpleasantness!

There is such a thing as the constitutional right to free speech. I have got phone calls in the past week since the book went on sale telling what should be done with me and people like me.

I set out simply to recount my own personal high profile involvement in the Irish anti-hare coursing campaign.

I joined that campaign thirty years ago after witnessing scenes of cruelty in a field where hares were being netted for coursing opened my eyes for the first time to the downside of Ireland's "field sport" tradition.

I then determined to learn more about the peculiar form of "entertainment" that passed for sport in parts of the Irish countryside. Nauseated by the spectacle of hares being made to run for their lives from hyped up greyhounds, and by the heart-rending cries of the hares as the dogs tore them apart, I joined the campaign against blood sports.

I found that hare coursing was high on the list of activities that animal welfare people wanted banned by law. This we sought to achieve by picketing coursing events, letter writing on the subject, and lobbying politicians.

But I found that taking a strong public stand on a deeply emotive and controversial issue almost always carries a price tag.

I, like many others who opposed the powerful vested interests and lobby groups that promote and support hare coursing in Ireland, suffered at their hands. I was assaulted at work, subjected to severe bullying and fired from my job with a farmers Co-op for my anti-coursing and anti-hunting views.

I describe that in the book and it seems that some people now aren't happy with that. Fine. We can disagree, but bullying I reject with the utter contempt it always deserves. Bullying and democracy are opposites.

Hare coursing in Ireland has the backing of leading politicians and wealthy business people. The pro-animal baiting lobby has enormous influence within the corridors of power. This is why, despite being opposed by a majority of the population (according to opinion polls), this sadistic practise continues to shame our country.

But as far as simply holding and expressing one’s opinion on the subject is concerned…I certainly wouldn't attempt to prevent a hunter or coursing fan from writing his or her memoirs, so maybe they might respect the right of an "anti" to tell his story?

John Fitzgerald,
Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Phone: 00 353 56 7725543

Product Description 

In Ireland the 'humble hare' has been the subject of great controversy. After years of an abusive sport, which resulted in its child-like death screams being heard regularly throughout Ireland, a result was achieved. For those few dedicated people trying desperately to save the gentle creature from the horrors of the cruel sport of hare coursing, the struggle was painful and fought against great odds. The author writes about one of the 'world's most barbaric blood sports' continuing during a deadly period for the hares, the 1980s. His own peaceful and non-violent action and that of, initially, a few others' did arouse the public and achieve what at first appeared to be a hard-won benefit to the hare. But the hare's troubles were- and are- far from over. Though it can no longer be torn apart by greyhounds, now muzzled, it can still be mauled, injured, and tossed about like a rag doll on the coursing field. In addition to highlighting the hare's sad plight, this is also a campaigner's story. The author recounts vividly the ups and downs of his own fight against cruelty. He paid a major price in suffering as a result of being persecuted for his beliefs. The gentle hare, apart from its use and abuse in coursing, has now become an endangered species in Ireland, and this book reinforces its right to be protected.

The cruelty of blood sports