Cork County Council will have fewer resources in the near future to contain stray horses.
A senior official said the number of horses likely to be impounded will be reduced after the Department of Environment slashed a grant to the council.
The official said, in future, the council will have to “be more selective” as to how it reacts to stray animals and will only likely pick them up if they are causing a public nuisance, such as being a danger to road-users.
Sharon Corcoran, head of the council’s environment directorate, said the department had previously covered the full costs of retrieving strays, such as transport and veterinary costs.
On average, call-out costs were about €800.
However, she said the department had cut the allocation, and now contributed just €375 per horse to the hard-pressed council.
Ms Corcoran said the council simply could not now afford to collect all strays and was not likely to react if a landowner alerted them about animals straying on to their properties.
She made the comments as she presented a report on the issue to councillors in the north Cork area.
She said that, on a yearly basis up to the end of June, the council had rounded up 108 stray horses, of which 21 had been reclaimed.
Two horses had been given new homes, four were taken in by local sanctuaries, and one remained at the pound.
Ms Corcoran said 80 of the horses had been put down.
In total, last year, the council had retrieved 176 horses, out of which 157 were put down.
County mayor of Cork, Independent councillor John Paul O’Shea, said that the figures were extremely worrying.
Sinn Féin councillor Melissa Mullane, meanwhile, asked officials to provide her with a breakdown at their next meeting of locations from where the horses had been seized.
A member of a council committee dealing with Traveller matters, she said it was “a tragedy that so many horses were being put down”. She said if a number of the horses had belonged to members of the Travelling community, it may be time to provide them with education in how to properly look after animals.
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