Trespasser troubles: Cork farmer details coursing curse

Hunters and hare coursers trespassing on private land have been a serious cause for concern for one farmer in Co. Cork in recent years.

Speaking to AgriLand, the farmer from Macroom highlighted the issue which saw him and a couple of neighbours make the long drive to Nenagh to participate in a recent meeting held by North Tipperary Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) on the issue of rural crime and trespassing.

The landowner explained that he was prompted to make the journey as he had been getting frustrated by the lack of action from law enforcement in his local area, going over a number of years.

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Men on foot with hounds have gone through the locality in the past without permission – sometimes through farmyards directly, he contended.

“My next door neighbour back in 2014; these dogs even went through his cubical sheds, in through the cows.”

He highlighted that while authorities such as Bord Bia may impose restrictions on farms for ‘no unauthorised people’, he noted “it’s not against the law to jump a ditch and go into someone’s land – and you can cross drains and everything. It’s a pure contradictory system”.

The farmer outlined that in some cases, when told to stay off his land, trespassers had been quite threatening, describing one incident where a hare courser told him that “there’d be consequences if we came to confront him at night; to stay out of his way basically”.

In his most recent encounter, the Cork farmer noted how he had received a call from his neighbour about two months ago regarding a group of five men and approximately a dozen dogs coursing in the vicinity. While they had received permission to hunt on another neighbour’s land, the coursers had apparently crossed over into a number of different farms.

On the main road the farmer saw a stray hound lost from the pack, which he caught, and waited for the hunters to come back up the road in a van and two cars.

Following a stand-off involving the farmer, a few of his neighbours and the hunters – during which Gardai intervened – the hound was returned, and the hunters were told to be on their way.

The farmer said that at least one of the vehicles used by the coursers did not have valid tax or insurance displayed on the windscreen – but the Gardai did nothing and let them off.

One of the lads in the van – I’d say it was the lad who had nothing displayed – said out of the window of his van to one of the women [neighbours] ‘we’ll be back’.

The farmer also highlighted the damage caused on the farm by trespassers such as hare coursers, noting that fence wires have been knocked down previously.

“The problem is that people don’t understand the laws and they think they’re protected – but they’re not really.

“Here we are paying farm insurance, public liability and lads can do what they want inside your land; and they can basically clean you out on top of it.”

The Macroom man also noted that ulterior motives could also be at play for coursing during the day time, outlining his suspicions.

“They were seeing what kind of gates a lot of people had and they’re sussing things out. Someone else could be on the following week to rob you then.”

He was quick to stress that he was not saying that every hunter is out to rob people – but some could be. He said that he has neighbours who hunt and ring for permission first, which he has no problem with, noting that they have the respect to ring and let him know.

Every night you’d look out the window before you’d go to bed in case you might see a flicker of a light or something.

“It’s just kind of natural now; it’s just part of your life. You’d look out in general maybe – but you could call it a fear as well.”