Dog attack on sheep flock in Co. Kerry sparks demand for action
An attack by dogs on a sheep flock in Co. Kerry over the weekend has resulted in the death of 11 lambs and the injury of 18 others. The incident has prompted calls for concrete measures to be taken to address the issue. Farmer Tomás O’Leary made the distressing discovery on Saturday morning while checking his sheep and cattle on his out-farm in Beaufort, Co. Kerry. O’Leary noticed that his last group of lambs were huddled together in a distressed state in the field furthest from the yard. Upon further inspection, he found a total of 11 lambs dead, with some of them near finishing and others selected for future breeding.
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA), which represents a significant number of sheep farmers, has called on the government to address the increasing frequency of dog attacks. John Joe Fitzgerald, the national vice-president of the INHFA, expressed concern over the lack of urgency in dealing with the issue. While an inter-departmental working group was established in February and made recommendations, no concrete action has been taken to reassure sheep farmers of the ongoing threat of dog attacks.
Fitzgerald has urged Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys to meet with farming organizations as soon as possible. This meeting would provide affected farmers and their representatives with the opportunity to voice their concerns and propose necessary actions to tackle this growing problem. Fitzgerald also emphasized the INHFA’s policy on public access, which advocates for legislation to ban all non-working dogs from hills and farmlands. Such legislation would eliminate any uncertainty regarding dog access and challenge those who fail to respect landowners’ property.
In addition to a ban, Fitzgerald raised the issue of tracking dogs after an attack has occurred. Many farmers, like Tomás O’Leary, arrive at the scene long after the dogs have left. There is a concern that these dogs may return days or weeks later. Fitzgerald suggested that DNA samples be taken from all dogs as part of the microchipping program. These samples could potentially be matched to saliva found at the scene of a sheep attack or an attack on a person. He emphasized the need for heavy sanctions and strong enforcement to accompany any measures put in place.
Farmers are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of action from the responsible authorities and are demanding immediate intervention. They believe that the seriousness of the matter warrants urgent attention and are calling for swift action to address the issue.