Hunting has never been more popular, but are farmers happy?
Forging better relations with landowners is a priority for David Lalor, the new chairman of the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association
The recent spell of dry weather has been welcomed by farmers countrywide, but for the hunting community, warm temperatures are not ideal.
Not only does it result in poor scent, but many hunts have been trying to work around a shortage of land in recent weeks due to the large numbers of livestock still outdoors.
"It is great to see so much livestock still out, but hunt staff really need to be careful where they hunt while the weather is still mild," commented David Lalor.
As the new chairman of the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association, the Laois native must now oversee some 50 foxhounds packs in Ireland, ensuring that all adhere to the strict protocols that have been in place since the formation of the IMFHA in 1859.
"Hunting in Ireland has never been healthier, especially with so many young people joining, and with the ongoing support of the Department of Agriculture, but it is up to each and every one of us to protect our sport, and for starters we must respect our landowners," he stressed.
As a fellow farmer and a joint-master of the local Laois hunt, as well as chairman of the Hunting Association of Ireland, Mr Lalor has settled into his new role with much ease, and is eagerly looking forward to forming solid relations with his associate hunting enthusiasts who work tirelessly year-round to keep hunting as the most popular field sport in the country today.
There are no fewer than 120 registered hunts in Ireland between foxhounds, harriers and staghounds. Between them, they hunt seven days a week. In addition, there are also countless private foot packs.
These hunts create vast employment within the equestrian industry, from hunt staff to farriers and vets.