Laws must be tightened to address the escalating problems of “semi-organized trespassing” on farms, ICMSA President Pat McCormack has warned.
Affected farmers say “intimidating” gangs are “lighting up” their fields to kill wildlife, dismantling fencing systems in the process.
It comes as Attorney General Helen McEntee was briefed on the growing intensity of “confrontations” between such gangs and local farmers.
“Jimmy,” a dairy farmer from Tipperary, said on condition of anonymity: “gangs come to me all the time to hunt rabbits and hares, every bit of game has been wiped out.
“We had two pairs of fox cubs here, which they killed one by one and threw them into the troughs for the calves.
“It happens at night, at least once a week, they shine lights in the windows of my house to intimidate me. It’s been like this for 10 years and it’s getting worse and worse.
“If I complain to the guards, it will not be treated as a crime, I cannot comment on the impact on the victim.
“I bought a new quad this spring, I paid €10,000 for it and it was gone. I had chained it to a cubicle in the cowshed, but they cut the chain and took it away. Luckily I got it back thanks to social media.
“I have no problem with people coming here to walk their dog, they stop and talk to me, but these gangs come to wanton and intimidate, if they can’t kill something they take something. “
Declan, a Limerick cattle farmer, said three men with five greyhounds broke into his farm two weeks ago.
“I told them their dogs should be on a leash, they abused me and went in through a gate.
“I told them to get out, I had a pole with me for protection, eventually one of them said he was going to take care of me, I thought I was being attacked.
“I called the guards, they came pretty soon, the boys were in the field, the guards are after them.
“But these gangs are no more afraid of the guards than a rabbit in the field. They might run away, but they’ll come back.
“It’s even worse at night because they shine their lights straight into the house and scream. My kids are afraid of them, it’s very intimidating.
“Nine times out of ten the guards come, but it takes too long, you feel like you’re on your own.”
Speaking before the ICMSA general meeting on December 5, which will be attended by Garda Deputy Commissioner Paula Hillman, Pat McCormack said: “The state must defend the right of farming families to feel safe in their own homes, fields and yards”.
“There’s been a very remarkable shift in the attitude of these gangs, where they just feel completely uninhibited: they’ll do what they want, when they want, where they want.
“This attitude needs to be challenged and ICMSA is urging the state to remind everyone that everyone must obey the laws surrounding private property and no one should make threats of the kind that seem to be expected of farmers on their own fields every day stand up.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/calls-for-new-law-to-prevent-gangs-trespass-hunting-on-farms-42163471.html Call for a new law to stop gangs from hunting trespassers on farms