Injured campaigner joins hare coursing protest hare event on return to protest trail

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Animal rights campaigner Vicki Moore, who nearly died after being gored by a Spanish bull, yesterday joined the protest against Britain's biggest hare coursing event.

Mrs Moore, 39, is still in a wheelchair after being attacked by an enraged bull at the Spanish Coria fiesta last June. She is helping to organise protests against the three-day Waterloo Cup meeting at Altcar, Lancashire, which starts today.

"Hare coursing is a particularly loathsome, cowardly thing. There has been an 80 per cent reduction in the hare population since the early years of this century," the former actress said. Posing with a 20ft-high inflatable hare, she described coursing, along with other blood sports, as "Roman arena sport".

"I have been thinking the issues through and can't find any justification for hare coursing. A lot of people who attend it come from the basest schools of animal cruelty - such as dog fighting and badger baiting, which are illegal. I think it is positively medieval," said Mrs Moore, who as chairwoman of the Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe has staged a vigil outside the scene of the event at Altcar for the past 12 years.

Last year the campaigner described as Spain's most hated woman for her animal rights activities suffered multiple injuries, including 11 serious horn wounds, when a bull attacked her at the traditional Spanish event, in which bulls are run through the streets before being killed.

She has undergone a series of operations but said yesterday she had no intention of giving up campaigning. "I had a bit of what animals have to suffer all the time. But I had almost expected it to happen," she said.

"From day one, as I regained consciousness, I knew I wanted to continue. I have set my sights on being actively recovered by late spring."

Today London Labour MP Tony Banks will introduce an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons expressing "disgust" at the Waterloo Cup. He will also call for the hare to be put on Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Supporters believe this will hit the Waterloo Cup and similar events. If successful, it will ban the netting and transport of hares to "stock" coursing events. According to the League Against Cruel Sports, many Waterloo Cup hares are brought from other parts of the country for the event.

Hare coursing is among the most ancient of Britain's "country sports", with rules written by the Duke of Norfolk in Elizabethan times. Supporters say it is the only way to test a greyhound's skill. But opponents point to the significant decline in Britain's hare population this century: from 4 million to 800,000. There have been 17 unsuccessful attempts to ban hare coursing since 1951.

The Waterloo Cup is the "Derby" of the coursing world, held in Lancashire every March. At the turn of the century it regularly drew crowds of 80,000, but last year attracted fewer than 2,000.