Bylaws sought to stop ‘dumping’ of rabbits, goats on Dalkey Island

Conservation plan recommends licensing system for commercial boat operators


Bylaws should be introduced to help prevent the “dumping” of pet rabbits and domestic goats on Dalkey Island in Dublin Bay, a draft report on conserving the island recommends.

The Dalkey Islands Conservation Plan, produced by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, says the dumping of pet rabbits on the island can lead to unwanted increases in the rabbit population.

This results in a greater vulnerability of archaeology on the uninhabited island and affects the ecological balance.

There is also a small herd of feral goats on the island, the report says. However, “non-feral goats have been brought onto the island by unknown persons in the past but have died shortly afterwards”.

The report recommends a licensing system for a limited number of low-capacity commercial boat operators to run trips to Dalkey Island between April and October. It also says the archaeological heritage of the islands should be conserved.

Dog ban
It recommends bylaws be introduced for Dalkey Island and nearby Lamb Island and Maiden’s Rock to include a ban on domestic animal access, including dogs.

The bylaws would also include a ban on visitor access to Lamb Island and Maiden’s Rock during breeding season for nesting birds there as well as a prohibition on littering, barbecues and fireworks on the islands.

The feral goats play an important role in “maintaining the ecological balance” of the island, the report says.

The herd of up to a dozen is monitored by a vet on behalf of the council, which has owned the islands since 1913 when they were purchased from the military for £575.

The report also says public concern for the goats, “while well intentioned”, creates vulnerability as “the more human intervention the less feral the herd will become”. And it warns that significant increases in visitor numbers and “inappropriate behaviour of the visitors” also present a threat to the goats.

Rich heritage
The draft report outlines the rich heritage of the islands, which show evidence of human occupation from Mesolithic times. Dalkey Island is home to the remains of a 10th century church – a national monument – as well as an early medieval promontory fort and a Martello Tower and gun battery.

The tower, from the early 19th century, was the only one in the world to be built without a doorway, the report says. Access was gained using a ladder.

There is also a holy well on the island, the Scurvy Well, though the report notes the source of water is unknown. Rare plants have also been recorded on the island. An “informal ferry service” to the island was discontinued in 2010.

Submissions on the draft report will be accepted by the council until August 9th.