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Thursday 18 January 2018

Wildlife group wants neighbours to 'snitch' on illegal hedgerow cutters

Cutting of hedgerows on country roads has led to a blazing debate on the merits of protecting wildlife over the protection of human life.

The 'closed season' for hedgerow cutting runs from March 1 to August 31 prohibiting the cutting of hedges between those dates to protect wildlife diversity and creatures like badgers, owls, stoats, birds, butterflies and insects that make them their home.

The exception to this law is when it infringes on 'health and safety' and that has become one of the law's chief problems, according to the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT).

"We believe this clause is being used in a blanket manner to excuse hedge-cutting anywhere, anytime," said Conn Flynn, IWT development officer.

The IWT then went on to ask that people 'snitch' on those cutting hedgerows.

"We want people to report these incidents," he said, adding that landowners, communities and even local authorities are also flouting this part of the Wildlife Act.

"Either they are unaware that they are breaking the law and causing tremendous environmental damage or simply don't care," said Mr Flynn.

He advocated that people should obtain photographic and video evidence of such incidents and contact the gardai or the rangers from the National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

But messages posted on the IWT Facebook page said the guards would be better off spending their time dealing with issues like domestic abuse and drug trafficking than farmers cutting hedges.

Some speculated that the biggest offenders, farmers, are already well aware of this law thanks to REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme) who are known to cut premiums over it.

IWT supporters disagreed, asserting that a law is a law regardless and that it should be respected and enforced stringently, especially when it is so very important to the ecosystem and landscape of the country.

They stressed that with regular cutting within the intended months all safety concerns could be negated.

Irish Independent

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