Calf dumped near lake in Monaghan ‘particularly shocking’ due to past botulism cases

Earlier this month, Monaghan County Council received a complaint about a dead calf dumped beside Annachree Lake near Shantonagh in the county.

On investigation, a young calf was found dumped in the long grass on the shore of the lake and it was determined that the calf was dead for a number of days, with its decaying carcass covered in maggots.

Dead animals, especially when dumped like this, can be a source of disease and contamination, posing a significant risk to both public and animal health.

This complaint is just one of a number of complaints relating to the dumping of dead animals investigated by Monaghan County Council this year.

‘To avoid costs of collection’

Veterinary officer with Monaghan County Council Brendan Smyth said it “beggars belief” why someone would dump an animal like this, especially in Monaghan due to what has happened in the past.

“We obviously know it was dumped like this to avoid costs of proper collection and disposal and probably by farmers who don’t have the equipment to do anything with the animal on their land.

“It is just extremely dangerous for a calf to be dumped like this, in this area.”

Within 10km of this dumped carcass, Corduff-Corracharra Group Water Scheme had erected a sign warning that 600 householders are supplied with drinking water from this lake and prohibiting the washing of cars, extraction of water with slurry tankers and dumping of waste.

The bodies of dead animals present a potential serious threat to not only humans, but other animals and Smyth said this has been made “painfully evident to many Monaghan cattle farmers over the last 20 years”.

“Some [farmers] have suffered catastrophic losses from multiple cattle deaths due to botulism caused by the cattle coming into contact with dead poultry carcasses.

“It is particularly shocking because farmers should show some consideration for other farmers as well.”

No guarantee that tracing will work

Monaghan County Council told AgriLand it will “investigate the possibility of submitting samples from dumped carcasses of bovine animals to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme [BDGP] for genetic testing and comparison with the programme database, to see if any of these carcasses can be traced to other animals registered on the database”.

“We really can’t determine that the kind of people who are dumping are the kind of people whose animals can be traced, to be honest,” Smyth said.

It’s worth trying, but there is no guarantee of it working out. It’s important though that people know that they could be caught through tracing at some stage.

By law, farmers are obliged to have all dead livestock on their farm collected by registered dead animal collectors for transport to either an approved knackery or rendering plant.

While the cost of collection can be significant, Smyth said that there is “no excuse for the reckless and irresponsible dumping of dead animals, particularly at locations where there is a significant risk to public health”.

The dead animals found dumped include dogs, lambs, calves, adult sheep and cattle with many of the dumping incidents occurred close to the border with Northern Ireland, as the people who dump try to find a quiet area, according to Symth.

Smyth concluded: “Farmers must take responsibility for their livestock, both while they are alive and when they die and they must ensure that the bodies of dead animals are collected by registered dead animal collectors as quickly as possible.”