Calls have mounted in recent days for a ban on hunting the native rare breed, Old Irish Goats, to ensure “its future for generations to come”.
Yasmin Fortune is seeking the support of 15,000 signatures in a petition she has created to protect Old Irish Goats living in the wild.
She has called for a ban on “trophy hunters from killing off the rare and unique part” of the country’s heritage.
The appeal comes just weeks after Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced the approval of the Old Irish Goat breed as a native rare breed to Ireland.
The DAFM also recognised the Old Irish Goat Society as a breed society and has approved it to maintain a breeding programme for the breed in Ireland.
Fortune welcomed the DAFM’s move to grant rare breed status but says that “this does not offer protection to herds living in the wild”.
She said: “It unfortunately only increases their value to trophy hunters who place a higher value on the killing of rare animals.”
“We need an urgent amendment to our wildlife laws, and we need your help to get there.”
“We are seeking an immediate moratorium on hunting until such time as the herds can be surveyed and assessed. Furthermore, we need to act fast.”
“The Old Irish Goat now needs protection from hunting to ensure its survival,” she added.
She said the “critically endangered” Old Irish Goat has been a “continual” feature of our landscape for the past 5,000 years and is a present-day link with ancient heritage.
“It is possible to shoot these beautiful critically endangered creatures for €1,000/head in Wicklow and Kerry.”
“Trophy hunting companies bring tourists from overseas to shoot our beautiful Old Irish Goats for a fee on private estates.”
She claimed that some organise hauliers to transport the goats from other areas to the private lands. Meanwhile, she says drones herd others in from commonage and National Parks.
“The images of the slaughtered and often beheaded Old Irish Goats on the websites of these companies are evidence that they are indeed targeting our ancient breed.”
“We have undeniable evidence that they are intentionally targeting the Rare Breed,” she added.
She claimed that trophy hunting in Wicklow and Kerry currently poses a “serious” threat to the breed’s survival.
Furthermore, she also claimed that there is evidence to support that trophy-hunting tour operators are being paid “considerable” amounts to facilitate the shooting of Old Irish Goats by international tourists.
“As evidenced in their galleries, the Old Irish Pucks are being shot at an unsustainably alarming rate. It will not be long before the ancient feral population is wiped out completely.”
Fortune said that if bodies do not address this issue, Ireland will lose a “massively important and irreplaceable” part of its most ancient heritage.
She said the feral herds have existed in the wilds of the most remote Glens and Valleys for 5,000 years. She said we must protect them from being “shot into extinction” under the watch of this generation.
Lastly, she stressed that inaction is “costing us losses every week” in the wild herds that cannot be recovered or replaced.
You can access the petition on Change.Org.
Old Irish Goat Society
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Old Irish Goat Society said that we need to “quickly” secure the protection of the Old Irish Goats living in the wild and ban trophy-hunters from killing off what is left of this “rare and unique” part of our heritage.
“The time to help them [Old Irish Goats] is running out. The official rare breed status will only increase their value to trophy-hunters who place a higher value on the horns of rare animals.”
We have undeniable evidence that the ‘rare breed’, in their own words, is being targeted. Furthermore, we have evidence of it happening within the last month, which means we need to act fast.”
“We all need to be heard before this vital genetic resource and piece of our ancient heritage is wiped out in the wild, stalked and killed for its beautiful horns by hunters and outfitters who value high profits over our heritage.”
“We want to get your voices to the minister as soon as possible,” the statement added.