HSA news release 27th November 2004

Heartless hare coursers condemned for decision to hound wildlife on Valentines Day

The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) today reacted to the decision to bring the Waterloo Cup forward in order to avoid the ban on hunting with dogs with condemnation and ridicule. The event is known in bloodsports circles as the 'premier hare coursing event'. Three days of dogs chasing and tormenting hares, whilst a mob of thuggish supporters watches, was due to start on 22 February 2005 but the dates have been amended to the 14th,15th and 16th in order to beat the ban, due to take effect on the 18th February. This is despite very public claims that hunting with dogs will carry on in defiance of a ban. The event usually takes place annually at the end of February, at Great Altcar, near Formby in Lancashire.

Dawn Preston, a spokesperson for the HSA, commented 'This decision highlights clearly that the organisers of the Waterloo Cup think only of their so called 'sport' rather than the welfare of animals. A quote to be found on the National Coursing Club website states that 'A true sportsman does not take his dog to destroy hares..and (he) is glad if the hare escapes.'* To that we say a true sportsman would accept when he is beaten, and simply give way to the will of Parliament and the wish of the majority of people in this country who called for a ban on bloodsports. This is truly a heartless decision, and ironically one will cause much pain and suffering on St Valentines Day.'

She continued 'Hare coursing is perhaps even more abhorrent then fox hunting, as the purpose of the exercise is purely to judge the ability of the dogs, and the death of the hare is inconsequential to the 'sport'. The fact that the coursed hare is quite literally pulled apart by the two dogs in a horrific 'tug of war' means nothing to some of the spectators present, whilst others will actually let up a huge cheer. Such behaviour is not acceptable in today's society, and the hare coursers do nothing but show how out of touch they are with modern life by continuing to hound our wildlife. We will of course be there with a huge demonstration to remind them that they are wrong. And thank goodness this will be the last Waterloo Cup.'

The HSA also regards this decision as an indication that hunters resolve in the face of a ban is weakening. David Midwood, chairman of the Waterloo Cup for the past 12 years, said in a piece for the Telegraph: "If we had held the Cup on Feb 22 as planned we would have faced going to prison...". The spokesperson went on to say "All the hype and bluster we have heard from the hunting fraternity is emotional blackmail. When faced with the reality of the ban, many will quietly slip away with their tails between their legs."

Notes to Editors:-

  • * Quote taken from www.nationalcoursingclub.org - 'The true sportsman does not take out his dogs to destroy the hares, but for the sake of the course and the contest between the dogs and the hares, and is glad if the hare escapes' - Arrian, a Roman, 116AD.
  • Hare coursing involves setting two 'long dogs' such as greyhounds against a hare and the dogs are judged on how many times they turn the hare in the chase. The object is to get as many points for this as possible and the death of the hare is inconsequential to the points awarded.
  • Approximately 1 hare in 3 which is coursed is caught by the dog(s).
  • Hares are known to be captured in areas where they are plentiful, such as East Anglia, and then "imported" to large coursing events.
  • Hares are a species facing danger due to habitat destruction and persecution for "sport"