Graphic: 18 in-lamb ewes attacked in popular walkers spot in Sligo

18 in-lamb ewes were attacked – and one killed – by a dog in an area of north Co. Sligo that is popular with walkers and tourists.

The field where the incident occurred is adjacent to both a beach and a commonage area in the Streedagh area in the north of the county.

Sligo county councillor Donal Gilroy explained to AgriLand that the incident occurred last Thursday (February 4). The farmer found one ewe dead and the other 17 in adjoining lands.

Dog wardens came on the scene after the farmer reported the incident. Gilroy noted that one person who had lost a dog earlier had been spoken to, but that dog had been found before the attack took place.

The councillor highlighted the increased chance of the surviving ewes aborting. All of the ewes were expecting triplets, which amounts to 54 lambs, including the three that were with the dead ewe.

Gilroy expressed concern that the farmer could potentially incur increased veterinary expenses if some ewes, if they do not abort, have difficult lambings.

The Fianna Fáil councillor noted that the area is popular for tourists and walkers, particularly the beach. Scenes from popular television programmes have been filmed there. It is also historically significant, being the site of a beached landing by Spanish ships in the 16th century.

For these reasons, the beach and adjacent commonage receive many visitors, who “wander all over”, according to Gilroy.

There’s a problem with commonage at the moment. Some people consider commonage land as public land. It’s not public. It belongs to the farmers in common ownership.

“There’s a grey area there. There are bylaws dealing with dogs on the beach, but this does not extend to private lands,” he explained.

“Some people think this land is there for all to use, but in fact it’s used at the goodwill of the farmers. The situation is coming where people will not be allowed on land,” Gilroy remarked.