You can read below, or just listen to this week’s podcast from Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.
Pets and wildlife crime
Pets (mostly dogs and cats) are often accidentally or incidentally injured or killed by wildlife crime. Typical examples include dogs taking poison baits, dogs and cats getting caught in traps, and dogs being injured in illegal activities like badger baiting.
As a vet in practice in County Wicklow, I have seen examples of all of these over the years. It’s very upsetting when several dogs are killed by deliberately laid out poison in baits, or when animals lose limbs or are killed by traps. These are real life examples that I have seen over the past twenty years.
I have personal experience of this too: as a child, my own dog – a Golden Retriever called Sheba – went missing, and when we went looking for her, we found her lying quietly in a nearby field. She was unable to move because her leg was caught in a so-called “gin trap” – an illegal metal trap with jagged jaws that had clamped shut on her lower leg as she walked over it. This was shocking and upsetting.
So for the sake of pets, as well as for the wild animals themselves, it’s important that wildlife crime is properly tackled.
Types of Wildlife Crime
- There are many types of wildlife crime: the most common are listed below:
- Leaving out of poison bait generally (pets may eat this eg the recent rescue dog that was in the news)
- Illegal hare coursing
- Badger baiting
- Illegal hedge cutting: Hedge cutting is banned from March 1st to August 31st each year to protect wildlife. There is an exemption for reasons of health and safety, and unfortunately, this is often used
- Poisoning of wild animals esp birds
- Trapping song birds eg bullfinches to be sold
- Stealing of eggs
- Destruction of habitats e.g. bats
- Shooting of seals
Members of the general public are often the main witnesses to the above activities, and it’s important that it’s made as easy as possible for them to report such happenings effectively. Wildlife crime in Ireland is currently under reported, under resourced, and therefore poorly enforced.
How can wildlife crime be controlled?
A Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Ireland, (PAW Ireland) has just been launched. PAW Ireland brings together conservationists, land managers, welfare groups and statutory agencies with the common goal of tackling crimes against wildlife in Ireland through awareness, engagement, and monitoring.
Wildlife crime is a significant and growing threat to species conservation, animal welfare and the environment. Globally approximately €24 billion is generated annually in wildlife crime-related activities (offences).
A new wildlife crime reporting app
- To help fulfil its key objective to tackle wildlife crime, PAW Ireland is initiating a Wildlife Crime Reporting app, the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. The app will help minimise cruelty, torture, maiming and killing of innocent wildlife as well as addressing the concurrent harm to pets
- Users of the new app will be able to:
- Record and report suspected wildlife crime at the scene or afterwards if preferred
- Easily report potential wildlife crime directly to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)
- Access simple guidelines on what to do and what not to do at a wildlife crime scene
- Complete an on-screen form to record a suspected wildlife crime
- Attach photographs from the scene which are automatically tagged with a GPS reference of the location
- The Wildlife Crime Reporting app will be available free to the general public for use on smartphones, and will be formally launched at the Wildlife Crime Conservation Conference in Kildare in October (details www.wri.ie)
Will the app really work?
This new and very useful app does need the support of the public and concerned organisations to become established in Ireland.
It will cost €3,000 per year to run the Irish Wildlife Crime Reporting app
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched.
If 150 people donated €20 each, this would reach the goal at once
More details on PAW Ireland and Wildlife Crime can be found at www.wildlifecrime.ie
Questions about pets from Newstalk listeners
This week, the following questions were asked and answered:
- Is it possible to completely tame feral cats?
- How do I stop my neighbour’s dog from using my dog as a toilet?
To listen to the podcast, follow the link below.