The nighttime ban has been proposed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is now before the Firearms Consultative Panel of the Department of Justice and Equality. It would put a stop to all lamping and nighttime hunting between midnight and 6am from September to the end of March when lamping and lurching are at their height in areas like north Kerry and Cork.
Local gardaí would have to be informed of hunters’ movements outside curfew hours under the proposals.
Lamping of rabbits takes place at night and involves lurcher dogs and is conducted under cover of darkness.
The matter arose after Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill told the recent meeting of the Kerry Joint Policing Committee in Listowel that the measures would have a terrible effect on sheep farmers in the south-west.
“It is estimated that up to 90% of foxes killed are shot at night. Sheep farmers are outraged with this proposal, many of whom stay up all night trying to protect their lambs particularly during the lambing season.”
His party colleague, Senator Mark Daly, also spoke out against the plans. If farmers could not shoot vermin at night, then there would be recourse to poisoning which would endanger far more wildlife, he said.
Gun clubs have also warned of threats to partridge and other birds if foxes cannot be controlled. Duck and geese shooting would come under the new provisions as people hunting outside the curfew period would have to inform local Garda stations 24 hours before setting out.
Supt Dan Keane of Listowel Garda Station said gardaí had not lobbied for these new changes. While gardaí in Tralee and Listowell had appealed to the public in January and February to alert them to people ‘lamping rabbits’ who may have been using it as an excuse to check out rural properties, he said genuine hunters had noting to fear.
Gardaí said at the time it was “an opportunistic activity” in that it provides an excuse for people to trespass onto lands, allowing some to use the excuse they were looking for their dog.
“The issues we have are with lurchers who are not genuine and people have also raised concerns with us about damage to land and fencing,” Supt Keane said yesterday.
The National Association of Regional Game Councils is appealing to people to come out against the proposals.