The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) are demanding concrete measures to deal with the increasing frequency of dog attacks on sheep. This call comes after another dog attack on the farm of Tomas O’Leary in Beaufort, Co Kerry that saw 11 lambs killed and 18 injured.
Speaking on this National Vice President John Joe Fitzgerald slammed Government inaction stating that “while the inter-departmental working group that was established last February, has made a number of recommendations, nothing concrete has been delivered that will reassure sheep farmers around the ongoing threat of dog attacks.”
In our correspondence with Minister Humphreys (who has the lead responsibility here), Fitzgerald maintained that “there seems to be a lack of urgency around this and stressed the need for the Minister and her Department to meet with farming organisations as soon as possible.”
This meeting can, he stated “provide impacted farmers and their representatives with the opportunity to highlight their concerns and detail the actions necessary to address this increasing problem. It will also provide Minister Humphreys and her officials with the opportunity to explain what actions they have planned and the timescales to implement these actions.”
In our policy on public access we have continued Fitzgerald “called for the introduction of legislation to ban all non-working dogs from our hills and farmlands. Through such legislation we would remove any ambiguity about access with dogs and challenge the minority that don’t understand or are not willing to respect landowner’s property.
Legislation such as this, the INHFA Vice-President stressed “would need heavy sanctions and strong enforcement.”A further point the INHFA Leader detailed related to the tracking of dogs. “Many farmers like Tomas O’Leary arrive when the dogs are long gone. There is the added concern that these dogs will return and this could be days or weeks later.”
As part of the microchipping programme, we should, he continued, “look at getting a DNA sample from all dogs, a sample that could potentially be matched from saliva where a sheep attack or an attack against a person has occurred.”
In concluding Fitzgerald stressed the need for action stating “that farmers are no longer willing to tolerate the total indifference of the responsible authorities in dealing with this very serious matter and need to see immediate action on it.”