Illegal deer poaching taking place in County Clare

The National Parks and Wildlife Service [NPWS] have confirmed that illegal deer poaching is taking place in parts of Clare – but cannot comment as to whether the problem is getting worse.
This comes in the wake of an incident in the Whitegate area last month when a horse was shot dead on private property by suspected poachers.
It has also been reported locally that shooting, and night shooting in particular, is continuing in areas of the county even though the shooting season for deer has long closed – and that some people are even shooting illegally from the back of moving vehicles.
East Clare residents have also expressed their concern that poachers, using high powered rifles to shoot at night, could pose a serious risk to public health.
“We do get reports of illegal hunting. Shooting at night is illegal.
“Discharging a fire arm from a public roadway is also illegal but that would be a matter for the gardaí to deal with.
“Shooting from a moving vehicle is also illegal and would be a matter for the gardaí if done from a public road, shooting from a vehicle off-road is something that we [NPWS] would look at under the Wildlife act,” said Seamus Hassett, District Conservation Officer for the NPWS.
“We mount patrols in conjunction with the gardaí and sometimes on our own but in relation to going to court, evidence has to be gathered and you would need to have a robust and strong enough case to take them to court.
“That would entail evidence, either physical or others.
“I cannot really comment on whether the problem is getting worse in Clare or not.
“You hear anecdotal evidence that deer numbers are decreasing in some areas and also that they are increasing in others.
“So it is very difficult to give an accurate answer. But we are aware of an element of what we would consider taking place in Clare.”
Fears have been raised about the dangers of night hunting in parts of Clare – with poachers using rifled that can kill from a number of kilometres away.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service have confirmed that, under current legislation, there is no maximum power of rifle than can be used. “There is no upper limit to how powerful the rifles can be – there is a minimum power. The rifles must be of at least a .22 caliber with a minimum grain weight of 64 grains and a minimum muzzle velocity of 1700 foot pounds.
The idea of this is to insure that the rifle is powerful enough to insure that animal is dispatched humanely,” said Mr Hassett.

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