Ireland in danger of being tourist destination for snaring badgers and foxes

TD warns criminal elements involved in ’seriously sick’ activity

 TD Clare Daly said   footage was being posted of “grown men forcing animals out of burrows while they watch and record dogs viciously mauling them apart in the name of sport”. Photograph: Getty Images

TD Clare Daly said footage was being posted of “grown men forcing animals out of burrows while they watch and record dogs viciously mauling them apart in the name of sport”. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Ireland risks becoming a tourist destination for the “seriously sick” and illegal practice of snaring badgers and foxes, a TD has claimed.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said that online footage was being posted of “grown men forcing animals out of burrows while they watch and record dogs viciously mauling them apart in the name of sport”.

She said she became aware of the digging out of burrows through law enforcement officers who were monitoring this activity.

Ms Daly warned that “this appalling barbarity is perpetuated in almost every county in Ireland”, and criminal elements were involved who were “incredibly dangerous”.

Pointing to improvements in animal welfare under way in the UK, the Dublin Fingal TD said the situation was “beyond critical” and “puts us in danger of becoming a haven for this type of barbarity and a destination for tourism in this illegal activity. I do not like to use the word ‘sport’ because that’s not what it is. It is seriously sick.”

Ms Daly called for a joint task force to be established between gardaí and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) because of the criminal elements involved, and said “it is too dangerous for officers of the NPWS to do the job on their own”.

Minister for Heritage Josepha Madigan, who has responsibility for the NPWS, said it had 72 frontline conservation rangers and this would rise to 84.

She said she was open to discussions on a joint task force, although she said a “type of loose task force” was in place with communications between gardaí and the wildlife service. There was also co-operation between the service and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Barbaric practice

She pledged to clamp down on this “barbaric practice”, but she warned that with evidence “those doing it must be literally caught in the act”.

Ms Daly said in the Dáil last week that prosecutions were failing because in some cases where people had evidence of this activity they had been intimidated into “not standing up and giving the evidence”.

She said a joint task force could begin by monitoring the digging out of burrows online, which could then be followed up. “It is incredibly dangerous and the most worrying thing is where it is leading to and the types of people involved.” .

The Minister told her that patrols were ongoing, and between 2013 and 2017 70 prosecutions were taken for breaches of wildlife legislation, although these were not specifically related to baiting or digging out.