Natural Restoration Law Passes

by | Jun 21, 2024 | We Are The Ark

After a wave of attacks on my ARK I’ve been reluctant to post any new updates for a while now and at one point I was tempted to move away.

Foxes have been poisoned and shot – birds, especially magpies, have been taken in Larrsen Traps and left to die, and the handful of deer I’ve come to know over the years have also been shot.

Unfortunately I am surrounded by farmers who do not like wildlife. They also believe that conservation groups, or anyone interested in protecting the natural world are the “the enemy”.

To make matters worse the local gardai are not interested in prosecuting farmers for wildlife crimes because it can result in a hefty fine or even a prison sentence. They would also have to deal with the outrage from other farmers who sneer at our wildlife crime laws and made sure they were sufficiently watered down not long after being introduced in 2012. They’ve been getting away with murder for so long now they believe they have the right to do whatever they want. And those outraged farmers also carry firearms whereas our gardai do not.

My own experience of finding banned “poison” laid down in a nearby field and then handing a sample over to the Gardai resulted in the gardai taking the sample from me and then somehow losing it instead of sending it to the lab. The NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Services) wanted to prosecute (my neighbour in this case) but without the hard evidence there was nothing they could do, and my photos didn’t provide enough evidence to prosecute. One of the gardai even went as far to say “anyone could have put that in his field”. But my neighbour did receive a visit from the NPWS a few weeks later and they removed the poison he had stashed in his barn. The two local vets I contacted wouldn’t test for poison either because they both work for local farmers, so it’s not surprising that so few convictions are ever brought forward.

In hindsight Kerry wasn’t perhaps the best place to build an ARK – or maybe it was. Maybe the farmers here, with their outdated beliefs and tight control over our wild places (and wildlife) need to be challenged and held to account.

Shooting at foxes would make some sense if my local farmers were raising sheep or hens but they are raising cows and have no justification for killing anything; they do it simply because they don’t like wildlife and they know they won’t get charged. They believe only domesticated animals have the right to graze in their fields and recently lobbied to increase the deer hunting season, which means they can now legally shoot pregnant females. The explanation we were given by government sources was “we have too many deer in Ireland” but those who voted against the extension tell me “the farmers just don’t want deer on their lush spring grass”.

In better news the new CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) laws have been changed to allow farmers to re-wild up to 30% of their land. I’m optimistic it’s a step in the right direction, and with a new generation of young farmers taking over the old guard, there’s a good chance we’ll see them putting more land aside for nature, as time goes on. We need young blood to embrace the new guidelines because a huge 70% of the land in Ireland is currently used for agricultural purposes, meaning there are v fewer places left for our wildlife to exist.

ARK founder Mary Reynolds feels that Ireland has almost forgotten about it’s wild places:

“Ideas of control are hard to relinquish. Ireland has a history of locking up wildness and throwing away the key. Weedy unkempt places have associations of poverty. Letting the land go was a visible sign of defeat or grief for many people, the loss of loved ones through bereavement or emigration. Prosperity has been drawn on the landscape with ripped-out hedgerows and a blank green carpet of heavily-fertilised rye grass. We need a new story about wild places”

There is also good news from our NPWS who have recently added a Wildlife Crime page to their website making it easier to report wildlife crime and prosecute offenders. A few months ago when I was reporting my own ARK attacks no such page existed. It took a lot of emails and phone calls before I could find anyone to help me. So this is heartening news.


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