Superintendent Joe Doherty told Castlebar District Court last week that sheep were being killed because people were allowing their dogs to roam, and that it was becoming ‘an ongoing problem in south Mayo’.
The superintendent made the comments after a case involving the hunting of a protected wild animal was up in front of Judge Mary Devins last week. Garda John Horkan of Ballinrobe Garda Station told the court that on February 2, last year he received a complaint in relation to trespassing of land at Carramore, Hollymount.
Garda Horkan said that on investigating the complaint, he found five men along with four lurcher dogs hunting hares. The court heard that the men and dogs were in a field containing sheep and lambs. Garda Horkan told the court that the men were subsequently stopped at a checkpoint in Kilmaine.
The defendant, Denis Ward of 35 Tirboy, Tuam, admitted to Garda Horkan that there was a hare in a bag on the floor of the car and told him it would be ‘great for making soup’. Mr Ward also admitted that he and the other men did not have permission to course on the land.
Supt Doherty said the ongoing issue was top of his policing plan, telling the court that he has had meetings with farmers and Mayo County Council in relation to coursing and trespassing.
“We want to send a message to people that they should not be coursing hares on other people’s land and worrying farmers. It will not be tolerated,” said the Superintendent.
The unemployed father of four pleaded guilty to the charge, which carries a fine of €1,000 for a first offence and a three-month jail term for further offences.
Judge Devins told Mr Ward not to come to the Hollymount area again and told him that farmers were entitled to use certain methods to deal with dogs worrying sheep.
Adjourning the matter for sentencing until November 22. Judge Devins advised Mr Ward to talk with his friends and decide ‘you cannot have a day’s sporting on other people’s land’.