ICSA president, Dermot Kelleher, has called on all hunts to respect farmers’ wishes when it comes to accessing their lands.
According to Horse Sport Ireland, there are over 30,000 mounted hunt followers and 300 hunt clubs nationwide.
Hunting constitutes the largest equestrian activity in Ireland during the hunting season, which runs from October to March.
In a statement, the farm leader there can be “all sorts of reasons” why a farmer may not want a hunt to cross their lands.
“So, if a farmer deems that it is not appropriate for horses and hounds to pass through their land on a particular date, then those wishes should be respected,” he said.
Calving and lambing season
Kelleher acknowledged that it is now the busiest time of year on most farms, with ewes lambing and cows calving.
“Many farmers are on duty 24 hours a day. It is unacceptable that a farmer should receive a text message informing them that a hunt will cross their farm the following day – and to make sure their cattle are in, and their sheep are out of the way. That’s just not good enough.”
“The time for getting farmers’ consent is when these events are being planned, and routes are being decided.”
“And if you do not have the explicit consent of the farmer, then you must choose an alternative route.”
Seek consent in advance
Kelleher stressed that working farms are not playgrounds; livestock can be dangerous, and they can equally be panicked by the appearance of a “fast-moving hunt and excitable hounds”.
“In the interest of fostering good relationships with local farmers, I would urge all clubs to seek consent well in advance of any hunt taking place.”
Concluding, he also urged them to respect the decision of any farmer who says they cannot accommodate a hunt during these busy times.