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Saturday 21 October 2017

'He killed her chicken and bit her, she had to get a tetanus shot' - Residents say once-rare pine martens are 'out of control'

'They're out of control in our area' - say farmers

Pine marten running over fallen tree trunk in forest. (Photo by: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images)
Pine marten running over fallen tree trunk in forest. (Photo by: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images)
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Farmers in the midlands fear pine martens will attack and kill their sheep and lambs this winter as locals say the species is getting "out of control".

Padraig Brady, a sheep farmer and north Longford Fine Gael representative says a pine marten recently killed two of his lambs and injured three others leaving him with a financial loss of ¤250.

"Nobody really cares about what they're costing the farmer, I didn't need to lose that money.

"Neighbours around me have lots more sheep and their losses are phenomenal. ¤800 worth of pheasants were killed down the road," he said.

"They're out of control in our area. They're in people's dust bins in the villages looking for food. They've been sighted three at a time," he said.

He believes the pine marten - which resembles the otter, Irish stoat and American mink - is multiplying in heavily afforested counties.

Once rare, the Pine Marten is now extending its range
Once rare, the Pine Marten is now extending its range

"A woman went out to pick her eggs one morning and a pine marten was in the box where he'd the chicken killed. She put in her hand and he bit her. She had to get a tetanus shot," said Mr Brady.

Although local FG and FF councillors have informed the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the problem, they say the issue has "fallen on deaf ears".

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"The authorities have to accept that the pine marten is causing serious problems. There is one in every 10 or 15 acres, it's all over the place. Farmers are already struggling to survive without this problem," he said.

Mr Brady says communities are concerned that a child could be attacked in a freak accident while opening a bin. "It might never happen but I'm just saying that is the scenario that we're dealing with on a weekly basis," he said.

Unlike the fox, who is hunted by man, the pine marten is a protected species with no predator. Local representatives are calling for this order to be lifted and for an urgent cull.

A population survey is currently underway by researchers at Waterford IT funded by Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Results are expected in November.

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