Fears shooting ban will see fox population ‘increase dramatically’

The red fox population is set to explode if a ban on night-time shooting takes place, a meeting of Kerry County Council will hear today, when three separate motions against restrictions on lamping and shooting at night are on the agenda.

Foxes are a direct threat to lambs, according to the council motion, and their numbers are best controlled at night.

“The council will have to vigorously oppose any ban on night-time shooting. The fox population will increase dramatically, to the detriment of sheep farmers, who have enormous difficulty protecting young and new-born lambs,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill.

“If this proposal is implemented it will also have huge repercussions for those involved in poultry — chickens, ducks, turkeys, and other fowl — as up to 90% of foxes are killed at night.”

The Department of Justice has said that following “concerns” in what is a complex area, guidelines produced before a firearms committee in April are to be amended and the matter is now in the hands of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Safety and security concerns were raised in Kerry earlier this year amid reports that individuals arriving in farm yards on winter nights were not in fact looking for rabbits or foxes, but casing rural houses and using the time-honoured rural activity as an excuse.

Gardaí in Listowel and Tralee warned they want to clamp down on ‘lamping rabbits’ and issued an appeal to the public, particularly elderly people in rural areas, to report incidents.

A meeting took place in Tralee between senior gardaí, farmers concerned at interference with fencing and livestock, and hare coursing representatives.

Proposals drawn up by a working group set up by the Department of Justice and Equality Firearms Consultative Panel included not shooting between 12am and 6am from September to the end of March, but farmers’ groups and shooting organisations opposed the idea.

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