There have been numerous reports over the summer of attacks by pine martens on livestock throughout the midlands.
At the centre of this call for help is Paraic Brady, a farmer in north Longford who also sits as a county councillor for Fine Gael. He has spoken to local and national media on the loss farmers were facing thanks to the animal.
One farmer lost €800 in pheasants, he told the Irish Independent. Brady himself lost out on €250 after two of his lambs were killed by a pine marten. Another three were wounded.
About the size of a house cat, pine martens’ distinctive features include their long, flat pointed heads which taper off to a small black snout.
He told Newstalk this week that he was worried at how quickly the species has managed to grow its numbers in forested areas of Longford, Cavan and Leitrim.
“The numbers are phenomenal around where I live … One time, you wouldn’t see them.
“Now there’s not a week goes by where there’s not two or three killed on road. You’d see at least one every morning.”
He also said pine martens were able to access land through three-inch holes and could climb greater heights than foxes because of their claws.
“Pine martens can get in nine times out of 10 where a fox can’t,” he said.
The Fine Gael councillor also told Newstalk this week that there is even a danger of a child becoming a victim in an attack. He said:
"God forbid what happened in England happens here, where a pine marten comes in and attacks a baby in a cot. I can guarantee you that’s coming down the road."
However it is not clear what incident Mr Brady is referring to here. The first conclusive sighting of the species in England in 100 years happened only last summer. ThatsFarming.com has reached out to Mr Brady for clarification on this comment.
Dr Kate McNey of the Vincent Wildlife Trust has debated Paraic Brady on this issue on a number of occasions over the past year. In a debate on Shannonside Radio in July 2015 she pointed out that the natural predator for the pine marten is the fox, contradicting the Irish Independent’s reporting that the pine marten has no predator to keep its numbers in check.
In that same interview it was revealed that the pheasants being killed by pine martens were originally released into the wild by a local gun club in Longford, of which Paraic Brady is a member.
If Mr Brady’s fears of more attacks during the winter prove to be true however, then there will be a growing need to find a solution to the issue.