Small numbers bikers and boaters have been defying restrictions in Wicklow and Killarney, the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht says
"Reckless individuals" on quad and trail bikes are flouting Covid-19 restrictions in the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains, according to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
The bikers, who have travelled distances, are also endangering fragile habitats and risk disturbing livestock and wildlife, the Department said.
The use of quads and trail bikes in Wicklow Mountains National Park and Special Area of Conservation is illegal under the European Communities Birds and Natural Habitats Directive, it pointed out, and "extremely damaging" to fragile landscapes.
Photographs provided to The Irish Independent (above and below) show groups of quad bikers and tracks on Lugnaquilla.
"They are travelling on fragile mountain habits, forest roads/tracks and on the public road," the Department said.
"There is evidence that some have travelled some distance to get there. Many of these vehicles are travelling at speed, causing a safety concern to landowners, other road users and people taking exercise within their 2km radius from home."
As well as flaunting social distancing and lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, unregulated quad usage can disturb livestock and wildlife, and cause vegetation loss and erosion which leads to gullying, scaring of the landscape and eventual landslides, it added.
It asked the public to report illegal activities to the Gardaí, or by calling the Duty Ranger of Wicklow Mountains National Park on 087 980 3899.
The Department has kept National Parks and Nature Reserves accessible as "physical and mental health spaces" where local pedestrians can exercise, get some fresh air, experience and connect with nature whilst adhering to physical distancing protocols within 2km of their homes, it said
However, today it also revealed that "a small minority of visitors" to Killarney National Park have not been adhering to Covid-19 guidelines and are continuing to use the lake for recreational purposes.
A number of incidents over the last week saw both An Garda Síochaná and National Parks and Wildlife Service staff devoting valuable time and resources to dealing with offenders, it said.
All access to the Lakes of Killarney is now restricted.
Reports of illegal activity in both Wicklow and Killarney will be followed up, and perpetrators will be prosecuted where possible, the Department said.